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Knicks vs. Bucks: Three Keys

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

The Knicks and Bucks play a pivotal game that will impact playoff seeds for both teams.

Knicks vs. Bucks: Three Keys

The New York Knicks lead the Milwaukee Bucks by just a single game for the eighth and final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.  The Knicks had a golden opportunity to extend their lead back to two games, but were defeated by a Chicago Bulls team playing without Derrick Rose.  The Bucks are coming off a loss to the Thunder, but that Knicks loss brought them to within a game of the playoffs.  

This is a monumental game for both teams.  If Milwaukee wins, they will have a 3-1 record against the Knicks on the season and hold the tiebreaker.  If the Knicks win, they give themselves some breathing room heading into the final part of their tough schedule to end the season.  Here are three keys to tonight's game.

1) Carmelo Anthony's offense - Ever since moving to power forward in Amar'e Stoudemire's absence, Carmelo Anthony has been very successful on both ends of the court for the Knicks.  His scoring is up, as are his rebounds and his intensity on defense.  In their last game against Milwaukee on March 26, Anthony led the Knicks to an ugly win over the Bucks with 28 points (12-12 from the line) and 12 rebounds.  He also held starting forward Ersan Ilyasova to just two points on the other end.  Carmelo has shouldered the load offensively for the Knicks, who have needed a consistent scoring threat since Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin went down.  At this point, the Knicks go as far as Carmelo Anthony goes, and that is especially the case tonight.

2) Iman Shumpert's defense - Iman Shumpert has shown himself to be a more than capable defender over the course of the season.  He has been big for the Knicks, often changing the momentum of games with his aggressive defense.  But he's just a rookie, and there are still plenty of things he has to learn about defense in the NBA.  Last night, Shumpert was largely ineffective against the Bulls without Rose in the lineup.  Seth Rosenthal suggests at Posting and Toasting that this might have been due to Shumpert having to play a majority of minutes off the ball, where he isn't as comfortable.  That should change when he'll be tasked with guarding either Monta Ellis or Brandon Jennings.

In the last meeting, Milwaukee's dynamic duo shot just 6-36 from the field and got to the free throw line just four times.  Jennings is notorious for great games against the Knicks in his young career, so do you use Shumpert on him?  It's a tough call, but whoever he gets tasked with, Shumpert has to lock him down.

3) Stopping... Mike Dunleavy Jr? - In his last two games against New York, Mike Dunleavy Jr. is 20-30 from the field, including 8-14 from three, for 51 points off the bench.  That is absolutely absurd.  Dunleavy has had a big impact on the momentum of the last two meetings, and the Knicks need to make sure they keep him in check.  Whoever on the second unit gets assigned to him, they need to keep the ball out of his hands or force him into tough shots.  

Let CHARGED.fm get you tickets to see the New York Knicks continue their playoff push against the Miami Heat.

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