The struggling Knicks will look to finish their West Coast trip on a high tonight against the Sacramento Kings, before they return to the Garden to take on the Toronto Raptors. After going 0-2 in the first two games of the trip, the Knicks don't want to leave the West empty-handed.
The big news for today's game is Amar'e Stoudemire, who is out for the game with a day-to-day sprained ankle. In his place we are yet to find out who'll be starting but you have the chance to voice your opinion here at Knicks Fanatics with the poll below:
The Knicks will certainly suffer from the drop-off between Stoudemire and the other options but maybe there is a possibility that, with Stoudemire out of the line-up, there will be more chemistry; at least between Carmelo Anthony and the other players. Fortunately, the Kings don't have any particularly great power forwards, although under-sized Chuck Hayes may cause some problems. DeMarcus Cousins could also be a force inside, although I'm doubtful he'll be too much of a handful for Tyson Chandler.
What the Kings do have is an interesting young back-court. Similarly to us, they don't have a conventional starting-quality point guard but in place of that they have Tyreke Evens and Jimmer Fredette - a former Rookie of the Year winner and a candidate for that same award this year, respectively. Toney Douglas may actually be better equipped to defend the likes of Evans and Fredette, rather than Rondo and Fisher, making the match-up all the more interesting. Bibby may play a little better than usual in his return to Sacramento but he's not exactly going to school Jimmer on how to play basketball at this stage in his career.
In a compressed season, it's important not to get behind early, so the Knicks need a win here; to calm down the talk of D'Antoni being fired, if nothing else. I'm going to predict a high single-digit victory - around 8 points - with the game being sealed halfway through the 4th quarter. Expect Carmelo Anthony and at least one of the Kings guards to have a big game and hopefully we'll also see some improved offensive play and consistent defense from our Knickerbockers.