Bucks-Knicks Preview


The New York Knicks have a chance to pad their lead for the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot, but it probably won't be easy judging from their past results against Brandon Jennings and the Milwaukee Bucks.

Injuries could also play a part, with Jeremy Lin and Amare Stoudemire uncertain to play Monday night when the Knicks face a Bucks team that's won five in a row on the road.

New York (24-25) leads Milwaukee (22-26) by 1 1/2 games for the final postseason berth, and the Knicks view this contest in similar terms to an 82-79 win at Philadelphia on Wednesday that bolstered their Atlantic Division title hopes.

"Obviously, a very, very big game, right up there with our game against Philly," Lin said. "We need to make sure we come out there and do the same and if we can get that one, I think we'll be in a good position."

Lin, though, may not be able to help due to a sore right knee, although he took part in Monday's workout. Stoudemire's injury is the bigger concern, as the power forward's troublesome back tightened up during the team's 101-79 victory over Detroit on Saturday.

Stoudemire didn't even attend the shootaround Monday, and he and Lin are listed as questionable.

"That is a real big game for us. Going up against them, fighting for that eighth spot," forward Carmelo Anthony said. "The way we have been playing ... we want to continue to keep playing. We need that game. We are going to be doing everything in our power to get that game."

The Knicks have had enough trouble beating the Bucks when healthy, losing 12 of 14 meetings and eight of nine since bypassing Jennings with the No. 8 pick in the 2009 draft before Milwaukee took him with the 10th pick.

Jennings' 20.7 scoring average against New York is his second best versus any Eastern Conference club, while his 22.2 average at Madison Square Garden is his best in any arena in which he's played at least three games. He's averaged 36.5 points in his last two visits to MSG and 30.5 in two victories over New York this season.

The Bucks guard has a new backcourt mate in Monta Ellis, acquired from Golden State on March 14. The players have shown some trouble getting used to each other in five games together, with Jennings averaging 14.2 points and Ellis 13.8.

Milwaukee, though, has won its three road contests since adding Ellis by an average of 23.7 points. It will be facing a New York team that has taken its four home games under Woodson by an average of 24.5.

Despite that success, Woodson wants the Knicks to cut down on their sloppy play. New York averages 16.5 turnovers - one of the league's worst marks - and overcame 22 in the rout of Detroit.

"From a basketball standpoint, the turnovers - it's just ridiculous I think," Woodson said. "We're just too nonchalant with the basketball and not reading it."

Milwaukee will be happy to have had Sunday off after a terrible performance Saturday in a 125-104 home defeat to Indiana, its third game in as many nights. The Bucks allowed the Pacers to shoot 51.2 percent and attempt 39 free throws.

"We have to play much better defensively," forward Ersan Ilyasova said. "We give up a lot of easy points, a lot of second-chance opportunities for them. To be a playoff team, we gotta be much better defensively."

The Bucks are in the midst of their longest road win streak since a six-game run Feb. 5-27, 2010 - a stretch that included two wins at MSG. The Knicks last won five in a row at home during a six-game streak Dec. 1-22, 2009.