The New York Knicks have a chance to pad their lead for the
Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot, but it probably
won’t be easy judging from their past results against Brandon
Jennings and the Milwaukee Bucks.
Injuries could also play a part, with Jeremy Lin and Amare
Stoudemire uncertain to play Monday night when the Knicks face a
Bucks team that’s won five in a row on the road.
New York (24-25) leads Milwaukee (22-26) by 1 1/2 games for the
final postseason berth, and the Knicks view this contest in similar
terms to an 82-79 win at Philadelphia on Wednesday that bolstered
their Atlantic Division title hopes.
“Obviously, a very, very big game, right up there with our game
against Philly,” Lin said. “We need to make sure we come out there
and do the same and if we can get that one, I think we’ll be in a
Lin, though, may not be able to help due to a sore right knee,
although he took part in Monday’s workout. Stoudemire’s injury is
the bigger concern, as the power forward’s troublesome back
tightened up during the team’s 101-79 victory over Detroit on
Stoudemire didn’t even attend the shootaround Monday, and he and
Lin are listed as questionable.
“That is a real big game for us. Going up against them, fighting
for that eighth spot,” forward Carmelo Anthony said. “The way we
have been playing … we want to continue to keep playing. We need
that game. We are going to be doing everything in our power to get
The Knicks have had enough trouble beating the Bucks when
healthy, losing 12 of 14 meetings and eight of nine since bypassing
Jennings with the No. 8 pick in the 2009 draft before Milwaukee
took him with the 10th pick.
Jennings’ 20.7 scoring average against New York is his second
best versus any Eastern Conference club, while his 22.2 average at
Madison Square Garden is his best in any arena in which he’s played
at least three games. He’s averaged 36.5 points in his last two
visits to MSG and 30.5 in two victories over New York this
The Bucks guard has a new backcourt mate in Monta Ellis,
acquired from Golden State on March 14. The players have shown some
trouble getting used to each other in five games together, with
Jennings averaging 14.2 points and Ellis 13.8.
Milwaukee, though, has won its three road contests since adding
Ellis by an average of 23.7 points. It will be facing a New York
team that has taken its four home games under Woodson by an average
Despite that success, Woodson wants the Knicks to cut down on
their sloppy play. New York averages 16.5 turnovers – one of the
league’s worst marks – and overcame 22 in the rout of Detroit.
“From a basketball standpoint, the turnovers – it’s just
ridiculous I think,” Woodson said. “We’re just too nonchalant with
the basketball and not reading it.”
Milwaukee will be happy to have had Sunday off after a terrible
performance Saturday in a 125-104 home defeat to Indiana, its third
game in as many nights. The Bucks allowed the Pacers to shoot 51.2
percent and attempt 39 free throws.
“We have to play much better defensively,” forward Ersan
Ilyasova said. “We give up a lot of easy points, a lot of
second-chance opportunities for them. To be a playoff team, we
gotta be much better defensively.”
The Bucks are in the midst of their longest road win streak
since a six-game run Feb. 5-27, 2010 – a stretch that included two
wins at MSG. The Knicks last won five in a row at home during a
six-game streak Dec. 1-22, 2009.