On December 28th, the New York Knicks were sitting at a dreadful 9-21 record and the Charlotte Bobcats were 14-17 and in a good position in the struggling Eastern Conference.
Just over two weeks later, a lot has changed.
The Knicks have won six of their seven games in the new year, including five straight. The Bobcats on the other hand, have lost five of their six games in 2014 and have lost eight of their last nine coming into Tuesday night’s game between the two in Charlotte. Now the Knicks (15-22) are in eighth place in the conference while the struggling Bobcats find themselves a half game out of that spot.
There is still a lot of time left, but as far as momentum goes, this is a pretty big game for both teams. While the Knicks look to start hot, the Bobcats could use a big win to stop the bleeding before it gets too bad.
The teams will be meeting for the third time this season. The last time they met was November 8th, the Knicks were able to win in Charlotte after the Bobcats got the best of them at Madison Square Garden just three days earlier. The Bobcats have been able to out rebound the Knicks in both games, 51 to 33 in the first game and 41 to 37 in the second. The Knicks have shot a combined 44.7 percent from the field against the Bobcats, who have shot 41.4 percent.
The major difference for the Knicks in the loss compared to the win were the assists. In the loss, the Knicks only had 12 assists, compared to 25 when they won in Charlotte. The Knicks will have to rebound better and move the ball more if they want to win.
The Knicks also lost Tyson Chandler in the first quarter of the first meeting to a broken fibula, so he has not played in either matchup. It is a possibility he will return Tuesday night after missing the past four games due to an illness, so his presence could influence how well the Knicks rebound.
In their five-game winning streak, the Knicks are shooting 46.7 percent from the field, three percent higher than their season average, and are out rebounding their opponents 44 to 41. They are also averaging 21.2 assist per game, .6 up from their current season average. Monday night’s game against the Suns was the only one during the streak that they didn’t record at least 20. In their past nine games, the Bobcats have been out rebounded in all of them and they have allowed seven of the nine opponents to shoot over 45 percent from the field.
The Pick: Both teams are going in different directions but are both still in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. As the Knicks know, things can go bad but they can also turn around, and the Eastern Conference has proved to be unpredictable so anything can happen. I think the Knicks will be able to come into Charlotte and win their sixth straight, 100-91.
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Time Warner Cable Arena, NC