Fresh off two close losses, the New York Knicks will play a home-and-home against the Charlotte Bobcats. While the Knicks shouldn’t expect to roll over the Bobcats (the Cats have beaten them three times since 2011), these two games will be a great opportunity for them to regain some rhythm and get their record back over .500.
The Knicks struggled defensively against the Minnesota Timberwolves, but they’ll be facing a weak Bobcats offensive attack. Still, the Cats could get their scoring on track with a strong performance from Kemba Walker as the Knicks have trouble defending scoring point guards. Defending the three has also been a major weakness for the Knicks, but the Bobcats are one of the league’s worst three-point shooting teams (Ben Gordon is their only real threat from deep), so they should be able to pack the paint and focus on stopping drives to the basket. They also won’t have to deal with Al Jefferson’s scoring in the post for at least the first game because he’ll be sitting out with a sprained ankle.
New York’s greatest strength defensively has been forcing turnovers, but the Bobcats have had the third-lowest turnover rate in the league so far this year. The Knicks might have to rely on their half-court offense rather than their dangerous transition game to generate buckets.
For all of the Bobcats’ offensive struggles, they’ve been a relatively sound defensive team so far, but the Knicks’ offense shouldn’t have too much trouble scoring. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a talented young defensive wing and he’ll likely spend a lot of time guarding Carmelo Anthony, but Melo should be able to use his strength to his advantage in the post to get looks for himself and his teammates. Raymond Felton should also be able to exploit the Bobcats’ young big men in the pick-and-roll and kick the ball out to open shooters beyond the arc (assuming Mike Woodson gives less playing time to lineups with poor spacing).
New York has to remain focused as the Bobcats have given them some problems in the past, but these are two games where they should be able to emerge with wins. They need to use these next two games to iron out some of the kinks in their offense to prepare themselves for the tougher tests that lie ahead like Sunday’s home game against the San Antonio Spurs.