The Knicks currently own the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They are only three games behind the 76ers though, who are in the lead right now in the Atlantic Division. The Magic on the other hand are comfortably in the playoffs right now, third in the Eastern Conference only behind the Bulls and Heat.
Here is my preview and prediction for the upcoming game tonight.
Where: Madison Square Garden—New York, NY
When: Wednesday, March 28, 7:00 p.m. ET
Listen: FM 96.5 and AM 580 Spanish-language radio: AM 1270
Betting Line: Magic -2
Key Injuries: Knicks: Jeremy Lin (Knee), Amar'e Stoudemire (Back), Jared Jeffries (Knee), Bill Walker (Elbow)
Projected Starting Lineup
PG- Baron Davis
SG- Iman Shumpert
SF- Landry Fields
PF- Carmelo Anthony
C- Tyson Chandler
PG- Jameer Nelson
SG- Jason Richardson
SF- Hedo Turkoglu
PF- Ryan Anderson
Key Matchup: Dwight Howard vs. Tyson Chandler
The most important matchup of this game will have to be the battle of the big men.
Dwight Howard is by far the best center in the league. He is phenomenal on the boards, averaging a league-leading 14.7 rebounds per game. He is also the three-time Defensive Player of the Year and is looking to add his fourth straight award with his 2.2 blocks per game this season.
Tyson Chandler has also been stellar on the boards and defensive end this season, averaging 9.7 rebounds per game and 1.5 blocks per game. Surprisingly though, Chandler has been by far the most efficient scorer in the league this season. He leads the league in field-goal percentage with a ridiculous 67.4 percent when no other player in the league even tops 60 percent.
It will be interesting to see if one of the big men will be a dominant scorer in this game or if it will be the defensive battle between the two we are all expecting.
Assuming Jeremy Lin is back and healthy for this game, I believe the Knicks provide many matchup issues for the Magic.
Tyson Chandler is the perfect center to have against Dwight Howard. Chandler is a very tough defender and you know he will come out to battle and frustrate Howard all night long. He definitely has the ability to neutralize the Magic's go-to player, which will make this game much easier for the NYK.
With Amar'e Stoudemire out, Carmelo Anthony will slide over to power forward and get matched up with Ryan Anderson. This will be a very tough cover for Anderson since Melo is much stronger and quicker than he is. I expect a huge game out of Melo, possibly his best scoring game since Mike Woodson took over as head coach.
Ultimately, I believe the Knicks' athleticism wins them this game. It will be a very close game, but I think the Magic starters—Richardson, Turkoglu and Anderson—just won't be able to keep up with the Knicks' running style and the NYK will eventually pull away towards the end.
Final Score: Knicks 93, Magic 87