The Orlando Magic (32-18) and New York Knicks (25-25) are set to tangle in Madison Square Garden tonight as the Knicks will look to cling to their playoff spot while the Magic hope to build some playoff momentum as the stretch run towards the playoffs is in full gear.
For the Knicks, the injury bug came at the worse possible time. Barely clinging to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race, Jeremy Lin (sore left knee), Amar’e Stoudemire (back) will be out of action while Carmelo Anthony is questionable. The bright side is head coach Mike Woodson. Woodson has led the Knicks to seven out of eight wins since taking over the head coaching reigns for Mike D’Antoni. But even with Woodson producing wins for New York, the team will have their work cut out for them against the Magic.
Orlando is surging. The Magic have won three games straight, including a recent 117-101 beating to the Raptors. Moreover, the last time these two teams met, the Magic thumped the Knicks 102-93 in MSG. The Magic were led by Ryan Anderson’s career-high of 30 points while JJ Redick notched 21 points in the Magic win.
But as you get set to catch tonight’s matchup, here are five things to watch for as the Magic and Knicks take the court.
- It could be a battle of three-point bombers tonight. Knicks’ Steve Novak and Magic’s Anderson rank in the top three most three-pointers made in the month of March. Anderson has connected on 40 while Novak has nailed 37.
- This isn’t a D’Antoni coached team anymore. New York is holding their opponents to 86.0 points over the last seven games.
- However, the Magic like to get the score to the century mark. The Magic are 21-3 this season when scoring 100-plus points.
- No really, the Knicks are actually playing defense. Iman Shumpert and Landry Fields are among league leaders in steals. Shumpert averages 1.76 steals while Fields averages 1.27 steals.
- It would behoove the Knicks to take the lead at half tonight. Orlando is 25-7 when leading or tied at halftime.
Team comparison: Here is how the Knicks and Magic fared against each other this season (via nba.com).