Jeremy Lin's Next 10 Matchups: Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Tony Parker and More
You ain't seen nothing yet. The biggest matchups for Jeremy Lin have yet to come, and they are right on the horizon. He'll be facing some of the best point guards on some of the best teams in the next two weeks.
If there are any doubts about Lin and the New York Knicks this season, they will be exposed in the next 10 games, where the Knicks will find themselves on the road six times, playing against five Eastern Conference playoff teams and two of the best teams in the West.
Is Jeremy Lin up to the task?
The answer is yes. And he could be the difference.
How will Mario Chalmers handle Lin? Hmm. Puts a different spin on that upcoming Miami Heat game, doesn't it?
And how are the Philadelphia 76ers first in the Atlantic without a superstar? Jrue Holiday is just a small part of the reason.
Lin will be facing these guards and more in the upcoming 10-game minefield.
Let's take a look.
Jeff Teague (vs. Atlanta Hawks, Wednesday, Feb. 22)
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The Atlanta Hawks are once again the most stealthily good team in the Eastern Conference. They're 19-13 and have beaten the Heat, Bulls and Magic. But they've lost two in a row and are hungry for their 20th win.
Jeff Teague has been splitting more and more time with Kirk Hinrich, and neither have performed well, particularly of late. Even combining their numbers is not enough to matchup with Lin.
Lin has an opportunity here to flex some defensive muscle—one of his weaknesses.
But while Lin will dominate the point guard play in this game, and on paper New York should really win this game, there are still going to be some Carmelo Anthony-Lin growing pains, and one can see the Knicks dropping their second in a row for the first time in two-plus weeks.
That could happen, especially if the Knicks are looking past this game to their next opponent...
Mario Chalmers (@ Miami Heat, Thursday, Feb. 23)
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If Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin—and Baron Davis and J.R Smith—get their act together a little, this game could be the coming out party for the new New York Knicks.
The Knicks should not fear the Heat. In fact, they kind of have the Heat's number. New York is actually 2-1 against Miami since Anthony joined the team.
The media will be all over the Knicks whether New York drops that previous game against the Hawks or not—either they will be jumping too soon to conclusions over whether Lin really is the real deal or Anthony is a problem or they will be pumping up this game as the true test of a Lin-led floor.
With one of the worst point guards in the league, Mario Chalmers, opposite Jeremy Lin and Anthony back in the groove, New York can win this one. And that will be a nice way to enter the All-Star break.
Kyrie Irving (vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, Wednesday, Feb. 29)
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Kyrie Irving is dead-on for Rookie of the Year right now, and he is going to give Jeremy Lin a run for his money.
This point guard matchup will be one of the more exciting ones we've seen yet since the newly-dawned Lin era. Irving and Lin have a game that is similarly penetrating and frenetic with good vision.
But the Knicks, as a team, should (and better) win this one, avenging their loss in January.
Rajon Rondo (@Boston Celtics, Sunday, Mar. 4)
Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images
The Knicks take the show on the road for four straight games—their longest road trip since Lin's emergence. It will be a test.
And it starts off with the Boston Celtics, a dreaded team, despite being one that appears to be fading. After winning five games in a row, including one against New York, Boston has gone 1-6 for the rest of the month, including two losses to the dreadful Detroit Pistons.
Is the condensed schedule too much for Boston's Big Three?
It might be, and so the Knicks might be on this day. New York will be well-rested for this one after three days off, and that might be the difference.
But what about that fourth Celtic? He will be Jeremy Lin's first really big test. It's Rajon Rondo, who has the capability of taking the Harvard grad back to school.
Until further notice,
Jason Kidd (@ Dallas Mavericks, Tuesday, Mar. 6)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
The road trip doesn't get any easier. Though the Knicks took the defending champion Mavericks to task on the 19th, that only makes me more concerned.
Dallas will be at home and out for revenge.
But 38-year old Jason Kidd just isn't himself. His numbers are down across the board, as he's been nursing both his age and a bum calf. Is the end near?
Lin, point guard of the future, outplays Kidd again, but this time the Mavericks win.
Tony Parker (@ San Antonio Spurs, Wednesday, Mar. 7)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Just when you think the road trip can't get any worse, the Knicks then have to face the second-best team in all of the Western Conference on the very next night.
So, hold your breath Knicks fans, New York might drop two in a row again. But take a reality check, the circumstances are definitely challenging: back-to-back games on the road against two of the best teams in the NBA.
If the Knicks win one of these—Boston, Dallas, San Antonio—they should deal with it and move forward mentally. If they can win two, that's something solid to continue building on.
Odds are the Spurs will take this one (they're 13-1 at home), and Tony Parker, who is at least on the board for MVP consideration, will outperform Jeremy Lin.
Brandon Jennings (@ Milwaukee Bucks, Friday, Mar. 9)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Finally, and hopefully, the Knicks can take a breath. After facing the Mavs and Spurs back-to-back, the Knicks are going to need this game, and...well, you'll see what's in store for New York in its next two games. It ain't pretty.
But the Milwaukee Bucks are 13-19—3-8 in their last 11—and going nowhere fast.
One of the main reasons is the falling off of underrated Brandon Jennings who was going off for most of the season. But February has really bitten him in the ass. He's shooting only 34 percent this month.
The much bigger Lin (by height and about 30 pounds) is too much for Jennings both offensively and defensively.
Jrue Holiday (vs. Philadelphia 76ers, Sunday, Mar. 11)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
This is going to be a great game, a meaningful game. The Philadelphia 76ers are the class of the Atlantic, boasting a surprising 20-12 record.
It has more to do with stifling defense than anything else. The Sixers have the best defense in the whole NBA. But they also have a team mindset. There are no superstars here.
The key for the Knicks and Lin will be ball control, something that has definitely been a problem. Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand, Thaddeus Young and Holiday play suffocating D and force teams to make turnovers.
If New York can focus on the ball, there is a chance they can just win this game outright, given their normally-consistent scoring threats in Anthony and Stoudemire. Returning home to the Garden will help, too.
But Jeremy Lin will not be able to run wild as usual.
Derrick Rose (@ Chicago Bulls, Monday, Mar. 12)
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The Carmelo Anthony-led Knicks have yet to prove they can beat the Chicago Bulls. New York is 0-2 against Chicago since Anthony came to town (and Derrick Rose found his own). Jeremy Lin can maybe tie the reigning MVP's shoes.
But, did you know Stoudemire, Raymond Felton and the Knicks owned Rose and the Bulls beforehand? New York was 2-0 against Chicago pre-trade deadline last year.
With a solid point guard in Lin and Tyson Chandler pouring on some defense (and the occasional bucket), the Knicks can rise to the occasion and take this one.
It will be tough, though. They are on the road yet again against one of the toughest teams in the league.
Raymond Felton (vs. Portland Trail Blazers, Wednesday, Mar. 14)
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Hey, we know this guy. Before Jeremy Lin, what Knicks fan wasn't pining for the good old days of Raymond Felton?
The Portland Trail Blazers don't feel the same way. Felton is struggling right now to hold onto his starting spot and is working his way back from an unproductive offseason (read: ate a lot of potato chips).
The problem for Portland is they don't have someone to replace him.
Could it be the Knicks have found a point guard better than Felton, the best PG the team has had in about 10 years? I think so.
The Knicks win, and so does Lin.