There's about 30 minutes left on the clock and the Knicks and Sixers are warming up here at the Wachovia Center. The doors opened about 30 minutes ago. Tonight's game, scheduled to start around 7 o'clock, is the second preseason game for both these teams.
I spoke to head coach Maurice Cheeks, Jason Smith, and Royal Ivey before the game.
We spoke at length about Cheeks' philosophy on outside shooters, as well as Kareem Rush.
"If it's there and it goes in, it's a great shot," joked Cheeks. "I think guys should known if they're 3-point shooters or not."
Cheeks said he is not necessarily against perimeter shooting, but said it's based on personnel. He said if he has the personnel, he's fine with it. If not, then he doesn't see the point in focusing on it. He said the Sixers, during his tenure, "haven't had a lot of knock-down shooters." He also said of this current team, "Since I don't have knock-down shooters ..."
It sounds like the only guy Cheeks looks at for this role is Kareem Rush. Tonight should be interesting to see when Rush comes into the game, and how he does.
"It's not easy to make open shots," Cheeks said. "People think that's an easy thing to do ..."
Cheeks was asked what kind of shooter Rush is, and he said, "Rush is a knock-down shooter."
Let's see if that proves true.
Update on Jason Smith: He has, indeed, purchased a new wardrobe for this season on the bench. Smith had crutches leaning against his locker. He said he is still working on strengthening his hip and calf. He is also working on range-of-motion and said some days he can do a full rotation on the stationary bike, some days he can't. There is still no time table for Smith's return.
"Take time, do it right, don't come back too soon," were Smith's exact words.
Royal Ivey on proving yourself on a new team: "You're sitting on the bench thinking, trying to catch the flow of the game, waiting for your name to be called, hoping it's called. And when it is, a touch of anxiety sets in."
If you're looking for additional analysis for tonight's game, check out this morning's post.
Photos: Elton Brand before the game with a group of youngsters; Thad Young working on his baseline jumper; The Knicks "MSG" station set-up; The pretzels inside the Sixers' lockerroom (please note Jason Smith in the mirror's reflection ... I do what I can for everyone); The big screen at Wachovia showing the Phillies' game; and Allan Houston walking off the Knicks team bus.
I'll try to post some running play-by-play at halftime ...