Ken Sugiura sitting in for MC. A couple notes from the pre-game.
Josh Smith will play on his right knee sprain with a brace. Coach Larry Drew said Smith decided he felt good enough to play at Saturday’s practice and then wanted to see how it would feel this morning. At the shootaround, Smith felt good enough to give it a shot.
Drew said he’d monitor Smith’s minutes and movement. Smith will start and defend Amar’e Stoudemire. Hawks will play the normal lineup.
2. Hawks dodge a bullet as guard Chauncey Billups (thigh), center Ronny Turiaf (knee) and guard Bill Walker (knee) will not play. Billups has missed the past two games with the injury. Jonesboro High grad Toney Douglas will start in Billups’ place.
With such a short bench, how the Knicks maintain their pace and effectiveness over the course of the game bears monitoring.
3. Drew said, not surprisingly, defense and physicality will be two big keys for the Hawks. Knicks are second in the league in scoring at 106.4 points per game. Hawks are 25th at 96.1
“We’re going to have to play, I told the guys this morning, with such physicality,” Drew said. “It’s got to be playoff intensity at the very beginning.”
Shot selection and not falling into the Knicks’ pace are other keys.
“If the shot is not there, we have to be organized and get into something,” Drew said.
Enjoy the game.