The last time the two franchises met on Jan. 14 the game ended with a 108-98 win for Charlotte behind 35 points from Al Jefferson. How can Jefferson and company top the injury-riddled Knicks squad for the the third time this season? Here are the three keys to victory for the Bobcats.
1. Take advantage of the Knicks ‘lack of big men
After losing reliable center Andrea Bargnani for the foreseeable future (botched a poster dunk attempt and tore a ligament in his elbow) the Knicks are left with a very serious problem in the depth chart. With Amar’e Stoudemire (sprained ankle), Metta World Peace (sore knee), Kenyon Martin (sprained ankle) and Bargnani all out it is evident that the NY’s big man depth is seriously depleted.
With little help for Carmelo on the rebounding end besides Tyson Chandler, the Cats need to take advantage of the Knicks’ extremely low amount of available big men.
Without key rebounders and board crashers out on the court Charlotte needs to take Chandler out of the equation to make easy fixes when seldom used substitutions like Cole Aldrich and Jeremy Tyler come into the game. The Knickerbockers only have three available healthy big men for tip off in Madison Square Garden Friday night.
2. Take Carmelo Anthony out of the equation early
Carmelo Anthony is averaging an NBA-high 39 minutes a game, but those huge minutes don’t always mean he is playing his best basketball. Melo is known to be a player that tries to shoot out of his slumps often, and if the Bobcats (more importantly prime defender Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) can get to him early affecting his shot he won’t be able to get other players involved (not like he does that consistently anyway).
The average 26-point scorer has had significant shooting struggles when matching up against the underrated Charlotte defense. In three games against Steve Clifford‘s Cats this season, Anthony has shot a noticeably lower 31-for-74 from the field (including a 10-for-28 and a 9-for-22 game).
Though Carmelo has had one strong shooting game against the soon to be Hornets, the last few matchups have shown us that MKG’s key perimeter defense has denied Melo to get into his normal shooting groove. If you take Melo out of the equation, then the Knicks are about as good as nobody — especially with zero support from his “reliable” teammates.
3. Al Jefferson capitalizing on the deteriorating frontcourt
“Big Al” has been the main reason why the Bobcats have won the last two games that star point guard Kemba Walker has been inactive (sprained ankle). Just a night ago Jefferson had yet another big performance (24 points, 10 boards) to help knock off the top notch Los Angeles Clippers.
In his last six the rising center has posted averages of 26.2 points a game along with 12.5 rebounds. The phenomenal six-game power streak started with a 35-point performance against the Knicks just about a week and a half ago. It seems that he is getting the ball closer and closer to the rim as time progresses and is clearly getting more confident making moves with his pivot foot.
He struggled with a nagging ankle injury in the beginning of the year. If Al can go out and take advantage of New York’s depleted big man core extensively then you might as well just give Charlotte the win before the ball is tipped off.