While Greg Monroe of the Detroit Pistons is looking forward to a little sightseeing on his first visit to London, he knows that come game time, it will be business as usual when his side take on the New York Knicks at the o2 Arena next Thursday.
After a poor start to the season the Pistons are currently 5 1/2 games behind the eighth-placed Boston Celtics, but the third-year centre, who leads the Pistons in both scoring and rebounding, says his team are still hopeful of making the play-offs.
“We definitely think we could have got off to a better start, we had some struggles in the beginning,” said Monroe via a conference call on Wednesday. “It’s always tough playing on the road in the NBA and starting off with about seven or eight games in a row after our first home game, was tough.
“We’re trying to take it one game at a time and stay focused on the task at hand and we know all we can do is our part [in] the play-off race and make sure we try and win as many games as possible, and hopefully everything else will fall into place.”
If the Pistons want to win the game next Thursday they will have to beat a Knicks side who are currently challenging the Miami Heat for best record in the Eastern Conference and who feature a star-studded team led by Carmelo Anthony.
“They are definitely one of the best teams in the league right now and they have some guys that are veterans and have had a lot of success in this league. Those guys know what it takes to win championships.”
“[Carmelo Anthony] has just been playing at an outrageous pace this year and he’s putting up unbelievable numbers, and he’s been a great leader.”
He added: “Those guys definitely have enough talent and they have that guy [Anthony] who they can always go to down the stretch to make a run.
“So, it’ll be interesting to see how it continues but they are definitely one team that you can put in that group, [who have a chance] of winning a championship.”
The o2 Arena will be familiar to the likes of Anthony and Tyson Chandler, who played there for Team USA during the Olympics, but Monroe doesn’t feel it will give the Knicks any advantage.
“I think both teams will probably still prepare just like any other game,” he said. “It’s not like the guys have changed on the plane ride.
“In this league everybody knows what everybody can do and the coaching staff is going to put us in the best position that we can to win this game. I’m pretty sure their coaching staff is going to be the same.
“I don’t think them being there in the summer will really translate onto the court as far as giving them the advantage from that standpoint.”
Swapping one Palace for another is certainly on the agenda. While victory on the court in top priority, he’s grateful he’ll get a little time to explore London.
“I don’t know when [the Knicks] are arriving,” he said, “but I feel we’ll be arriving over in enough time to get out and at least see a little bit of the city, and get to know it a little bit.
“We’ll be practicing, but our practices won’t take up our whole day. Of course, we know we’re over there for a game and we’re over there for a purpose but at the same time I do feel like we do have a little time to get out and learn something new.
“But we’re always going to be focused on the game … at the end of the day we’re all going over to play a game and it’s all business, but it’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go and play a game over in London.
“Guys want to make sure they get an experience personally, but we’re always going to make sure we take of business on the court.”
The Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks go head-to-head at the O2 Arena on January 17 at NBA London Live. Watch the game live on Sky Sports 1 and Sky 3D with regular live games and NBA Tonight on ESPN.
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