Father time, like ball, don’t lie.
The New York Knicks will be without 38-year old Rasheed Wallace when they face the Golden State Warriors in Madison Square Garden Wednesday night. Wallace will miss approximately eight weeks after undergoing surgery later this week to repair a broken foot.
Not that Wallace’s absence really matters to Golden State; the veteran forward has averaged only .388 from the field in 20 games this year.
The Warriors’ most pressing concern will be stopping the man Wallace plays behind – Carmelo Anthony. Melo has scored 29 and 32 points in his last two games despite being held to only .405 shooting (and going only 1-for-7 from beyond the arc).
Matching up against Melo will be especially difficult if David Lee scratches prior to tip-off. The Warriors’ starting power forward is questionable after sustaining a severe bruise from a collision with Orlando Johnson in Tuesday’s (sorta kinda) slugfest with the Indiana Pacers. Lee’s presence would be missed – the former Knick has played well in two previous matchups against New York, averaging 20.5 points on .600 shooting with 7.5 rebounds, according to Yahoo Sports.
Although forward Carl Landry has played excellently off the bench, the Warriors will lack size and depth if Lee’s shoulder bruise forces him to sit. Golden State has struggled against big men like Al Jefferson, Nikola Peković and Roy Hibbert since the All Star break, and none of those guys play on the same level as Tyson Chandler, who leads league starters with a .661 FG percentage. Chandler will likely match-up against the dynamic (not really) duo Festus Ezeli and Andris Biedrins, both of whom have proven to be occasionally effective disrupters down low. However, their shared lack of offense creates a host of problems for Stephen Curry, Jarrett Jack and Klay Thompson on the other end of the court. Chandler, whose help defense is par excellence, will have no problem abandoning either Ezeli or Biedrins to close potential driving lanes.
Even if Lee does play, the Warriors will likely have to hope for another career night from Curry, who shot the lights out in Indiana. Curry’s 14-of-20 night (with 7 threes) kept the Warriors in the game up until the scuffle that resulted in Hibbert’s rejection. His teammates shot a paltry .339 against the Pacers, thanks in large part to an ice cold Jarrett Jack (11 points, 2-of-10 from the field).
Golden State has its work cut out for it tonight. If Lee plays, that could present some difficulties for New York’s veteran (read: really, really old) defenders. If he doesn’t, the pressure’s on for Steph Curry and the rest of the Golden State to make up the 19 points and 11.1 rebounds per game he’s averaged this year.
WHO: Golden State Warriors vs. New York Knicks
WHERE: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
WHEN: Wednesday, 5:00 p.m. PST, ESPN
PLAYER TO WATCH: Carmelo Anthony. After going 1-of-7 in his previous two outings, expect Golden State’s weak perimeter defense to help Melo heat up beyond the arc.
PREDICTION: Knicks 104 – Warriors 97. Golden State can’t afford to go cold against Carmelo and the Knicks. With Lee questionable, the Warriors will need big rebounding numbers from Carl Landry and Draymond Green and better shooting from everybody else.