There are quite a few games on tap for Friday, and at first glance Charlotte vs. New York may not seem like the most exciting. That would be a wrong assumption to make.
The last time these two teams met was in December. That game ended in a 100-98 Knicks win which went down to the wire.
Needless to say, the sparks are sure to fly in this matchup.
Time: Friday, March 29, 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York
TV: MSG (New York), SSO-CHA (Charlotte)
Records: Charlotte Bobcats (17-54) vs. New York Knicks (44-26)
Charlotte Bobcats Breakdown
It's been a normal disappointing season for Charlotte, which comes into the game 17-54 after a Wednesday 114-108 win over Orlando. Not surprisingly, the Bobcats are the bottom of the barrel in the Eastern Conference.
Despite the lumps, there has been some good to come from this season. That would of course be the emergence of Kemba Walker, who is currently averaging 17.3 points a game.
Inconsistencies continue to haunt the point guard, but he's having a strong month. He played tough against New York earlier in the season, notching his first double-double of the year with 25 points and 11 assists.
Even with Walker's tremendous play, Charlotte has had issues excelling on offense. And he hasn't been able to mask the problems on defense, which remains the team's kryptonite.
The Bobcats are 15th in the conference in points allowed per game at 102.9. The only team giving up more than that in the entire NBA is the Sacramento Kings.
They're also one of the league's worst rebounding teams, averaging just 40.2 a game.
While New York isn't a great rebounding team either, it's better than Charlotte. With the Knicks high-tempo offense, it'll be nearly impossible for the Bobcats to keep them in check.
The only saving grace for Charlotte is that the Knicks are suffering through some injuries to their bigs. That means it won't be completely outsized by New York.
Even so, Charlotte can't expect to win this game just by controlling the paint. New York has too many scoring threats, and the Bobcats will have to play sound defense to even have a chance at a win.
New York Knicks Breakdown
Masked by the recent hot streak of the Miami Heat are the New York Knicks, who have actually enjoyed a strong last two weeks themselves.
In that time the Knicks are 6-1, with a six-game win streak that was extended Wednesday night in a 108-101 win against the Memphis Grizzlies.
New York continues to battle through injuries and play strong basketball. Amar'e Stoudemire is hurt again, and Tyson Chandler is dealing with a neck injury.
Picking up the reigns for the Knicks has been Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith. The two have combined to shoot 41 percent from the field and average 43.6 points a game in March.
Also chipping in has been recent pickup Kenyon Martin, who is averaging 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds a game since joining the team in February. He's helped add much needed size and depth at center.
The big question for New York in this game is health. Having Chandler back under center would help a lot defensively, and add some size.
Still, the offense is at full tilt this month, and that will certainly spell trouble for the defensively deficient Bobcats.
Key Player Charlotte: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Charlotte can only hope to slow New York down with good defensive play, but that won't win the game. The Bobcats' path to victory has to be finding a way to outpace the Knicks offensively.
Small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is the key to doing that.
The Bobcats have Kemba Walker as their primary scorer, and he's having a great season. But one go-to scorer isn't enough to get the job done against this loaded New York team.
Kidd-Gilchrist has flashed brilliance at times. Last time Charlotte played New York he shot 75 percent from the field and scored 12 points.
The rookie isn't having his best month. He is shooting 47.1 percent in March, but is averaging fewer than 9.0 points a game.
He was a non-factor against Orlando on Wednesday, scoring just six points.
If Kidd-Gilchrist can get his shots falling early and often, it would give Charlotte a strong one-two punch between him and Walker. That, combined with strong defense under the basket, could be enough for the win.
Key Player New York: Kenyon Martin
Anthony and Smith are the lifeblood of the Knick's offense, but they've been so hot lately that they're both too obvious a choice as a key player.
Instead we look to Kenyon Martin, who has been a lifesaver for this New York team in March.
The 35-year-old veteran has been just what the Knicks needed. He's provided depth under the basket, and has been a source for rebounds and defense.
Martin's assignment for Friday will be keeping Charlotte's bigs in check. That shouldn't be too difficult a task, but given the injuries New York is fighting through it won't be easy either.
As long as Martin can be an enforcer under the basket, the Bobcats won't be able to control the court. That will leave Anthony and Smith open to do what they do best, giving New York the opportunity to dominate.
Given the impact he's made on the Knicks this month, that shouldn't be too hard a task for Martin on Friday.
Even with the injuries in New York, it's pretty hard to overlook how good of basketball the Knicks have been playing of late.
There is almost no way the Bobcats find a way to defend both Anthony and Smith, while finding a way to make Martin a non-factor in the paint.
The Knicks are just too hot right now, and have far too many weapons for a team like Charlotte to handle.
Charlotte Bobcats 85, New York Knicks 102
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