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Charlotte Bobcats at New York Knicks preview -- Game 9

Today's Tunes:

"1/2 & 1/2" - Gangstarr feat. M.O.P.

Game Overview: Hey, we've seen these guys before! Total déjà vu, right? Wait, did we travel back in time? No? Oh.

Well, the Knicks bounced back from their defeat to Charlotte last week, reeling off a pair of wins against the lowly Washington Wizards and the Detroit Pistons. Mike Bibby's corpse was reanimated and caught fire, hitting eight of 11 shots in those games and going a perfect seven-for-seven from deep. Iman Shumpert moved into the starting lineup at point guard, to some effect, helping their perimeter defense, though he got into early foul trouble against Detroit. Still, he's not a true point guard, and the Knicks don't really have one on the roster, until Baron Davis returns from his back problems. As such, Carmelo Anthony shoulders some of the load as a distributor, especially in pick and rolls or entry passes with Tyson Chandler. He's not a great passer, but really, what other option do they have? Their roster still is muddled with a couple great talents surrounded with decent-to-mediocre-to-plain awful players, but I think moving Shumpert into the starting lineup is a step in the right direction.

The Bobcats, on the other hand, are coming off a rough loss to the Pacers, after which Paul Silas questioned their toughness. The circumstances remind me of the last prelude to Bobcats at Knicks: a bad loss to a team in the Mid-West, Boris Diaw playing terribly, inconsistent play all around. But as is the case in rematches in sports, often times the outcome is different the second time around as adjusts are made. New York has made changes in their starting lineup; will the Bobcats?

Rick Bonnell has Tyrus matched up with Carmelo at small forward and Diaw guarding Stoudemire, while some dude named Toby Determined will go against Tyson Chandler. Well then! If this is the case, and the Bobcats must have either Diop or Byron Mullens guarding Chandler, that's a mismatch right there. Chandler is no Hakeem Olajuwon, but his quickness and length will give either Bobcats center fits. Thomas on Anthony is an interesting matchup. Thomas's length and quickness will bother Anthony, but Carmelo is a crafty artisan on offense. His footwork is top-notch and his diverse skill set will require Tyrus's full energy and attention.

I'm not so sure Silas doesn't return to Diaw at center. He's better than Diop and Mullens on defending pick and rolls, but Chandler is still a tough matchup for Diaw in many aspects, considering the height difference. That said, New York's poor defensive rotation and Chandler's willingness to leave a task at hand to get back to contest a shot at the rim will give Diaw many open looks and Diaw's range pulls Chandler from where he's most effective. It's a matter of picking your poison on Chandler: do you want Chandler to be more of a threat on offense or defense? For me, the threat of Chandler on offense isn't as bad as the threat of not spacing the floor to stretch the Knicks' defense.

Update: Bonnell says Diop will probably get the start.

Around the NBA Links:

D'AWWWW it's Serge Ibaka as a widdle kid in his mother's basketball jersey and shoes!

Bad things are happening in D.C. Bad basketball things, I mean. How bad? Larry Brown's name is being thrown around as a possible replacement for Flip Saunders.

Delonte West can't meet the President.