Utah Jazz (23-51, 15-21 home) vs New York Knicks (31-43, 15-22 road)
Tip Off @ 7:00 p.m. MST
Regular Season Series Game 2 of 2 (Knicks lead 1-0)
After an absolutely horrible start to the 2013-14′ NBA season, the New York Knicks find themselves only one game out of the playoff picture with eight games remaining in the regular season. The Knicks trail the Atlanta Hawks for that final playoff spot mainly as a result of New York winning 10 of it’s last 13 games, and the Hawks losing six in a row.
Last night, the Knicks got an important win over the Golden State Warriors to even their record at 2-2 on this current five game west coast road trip. Tonight, the Knicks look to head back to New York with an above .500 record on this trip, something that could give them some added motivation to steal that last playoff spot from Atlanta.
As much as the Knicks needed a win last night, the Jazz were also in need on one, which they didn’t get. After a horrible start to the game, where the Jazz only scored nine first quarter points, the Jazz got rolled by the Oklahoma City Thunder by 20. The Jazz have dropped 18 of their last 22 games and four in a row.
Key Matchup: Defending Carmelo Anthony
The Jazz faced one of the league’s most prolific scorers yesterday in Kevin Durant, tonight they face another one in Carmelo Anthony. Anthony has been scoring the ball well all season, even if the Knicks as a team haven’t. Carmelo is scoring 28.0 points per game this season, and with the Knicks winning 10 of their last 13, Melo has scored 30 or more points in five of those games, all but one was a win.
The Jazz did not do a very good job defending Melo a few weeks ago when the two teams met in New York. Melo went for 29 points and a season high eight assists in a 27 point blowout win. Melo also shot 10-19 from the field for 52.6%.
If yesterday was any indication of how the Jazz will defend a great scorer, expect big things out of Melo tonight. Yesterday, the Jazz let Kevin Durant go for 31 points on only 9-13 shooting. The Jazz sent him to the free throw line nine times in the game, where Durant connected on all nine attempts. The Jazz’s defense tends to be a bit better at home than it is on the road, but still expect Melo to score the basketball a lot tonight.
The Knicks are on a roll right now and are focused on trying to steal that final playoff spot. The Jazz on the other hand, look like they are just ready for the season to be over with. If the Jazz come out with the same kind of effort that they had yesterday, they could be in for a long night.
If the Jazz want to have any chance of winning, they need to come out strong. If the defense is lacking in the first quarter and they let Melo score early, he will bury the Jazz early. The Jazz will stage a bit of a comeback, but won’t be able to get close enough thanks to the hole they dug themselves early in the game. If yesterday was a sign of things to come, then I fully expect that to happen tonight.
Knicks 95, Jazz 88