The Knicks tip off their first back-to-back of the season on Sunday against the Sixers at noon ET. Here are three things to watch from the Knicks:
1. What will the starting lineup look like? This could be one of the biggest questions every night, given the Knicks' ability to match most teams defensively. Since the Sixers will likely go with a smaller lineup because centers Andrew Bynum and Kwame Brown have been battling injuries, Mike Woodson could once again start Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, Ronnie Brewer, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler (or Kurt Thomas if Chandler doesn't get over the flu).
That lineup will enable Brewer to stick Evan Turner and Anthony to stay on Thaddeus Young -- Philly's most dangerous scoring threats. Offensively, having Kidd at shooting guard gives the Knicks an advantage with two seasoned point guards on the court at the same time, which helped them establish efficiency and scoring in Friday night's win over the Heat, as they built a 33-17 lead in the first quarter.
After Saturday's practice, Anthony said there's probably not a smarter player in the league than Kidd, who's been the glue guy on the team.
"He's been doing it for like 20 years," Melo said. "Jason is very vocal, especially in the locker room, on the bench, on the buses. The one thing he brings to this team is knowledge."
2. Where will the additional attacking come from? The Knicks realize they won't make 19 3-pointers every night, as they did Friday, so what does that mean? They need to develop a reliable penetration-to-scoring game this season, and it can't be all Anthony. On Friday night, he took the majority of the shots (28) and accounted for nearly half of the team's free throw attempts. The Knicks can't get too comfortable shooting the long ball, and because of the Sixers' top-notch defense, they should work on getting to the basket more and drawing fouls. Here's looking at you, Felton and J.R. Smith.
3. Can they close out on backdoor cuts? The Knicks' defense smothered the Heat, but they left one area of breathing room open. Several times, the Heat (usually Dwyane Wade), caught the Knicks sleeping on the backdoor, leading to uncontested scores at the rim. Doug Collins is one of the smartest coaches in NBA history, and you can bet when he watched game film of the Knicks-Heat game, he noticed that. The Knicks will especially have to be wary of Young's presence down low. His length, athleticism and finishing ability make him a threat whether he has the ball or not.
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