Linsanity has worn off a bit since New York’s win over Dallas Sunday, but that’s probably due to exhaustion more than anything. Lin and the Knicks were torched by Deron Williams and the Nets Monday. Carmelo Anthony has returned. Lin has been added to some All-Star weekend festivities. Amare’s lack of defense is finally a talking point. Subplots abound. But we will not be deterred by subplots!
The Knicks play the Hawks tonight, but good news is that Atlanta won’t have the services of its best scorer, Joe Johnson (knee). I’d expect Willie Green to start in his place. Without Johnson and his 17.6 ppg, the Hawks are 7-point underdogs, which seems absurd because the Knicks are still learning how to play with all their new parts.
What I’ll watch for tonight is not the Melo-Lin chemistry, but how Melo plays with Amare. I like to think that at some point after the All-Star break, D’Antoni is going to have to move Amare into a 6th man role and start Jared Jeffries. Defensively, Amare is a disaster against the pick-and-roll, and I think he’d work much better coming off the bench playing 30 minutes a night, mostly against reserves. You’ve got enough offense in the starting lineup with Lin and Fields and Melo, why not put Amare in the second unit, which would be very aggressive offensively with JR Smith and Baron Davis also jacking shots.