The word has come down from P&T headquarters: in light of recent events, P&T is making the transition from full-time Knicks site to full-time baby animal site. With that in mind, I present a first-time Middle Kingdom Previews video exclusive:
Now, on to the preview!
Thurs., March 14 - @Portland Trailblazers
Chinese name: 开拓者 (kai-tuo-zhe) Lit. "open up-er"
Yesterday I broke down the Knicks' complete and utter ineptitude against any team featuring an ex-Knick - now 4-13 after the beating in Denver (Fuck you for dunking on us, Anthony Randolph! Anyone but you!). Let me remind you that the Knicks are 34-12 when not playing a former Knick who played at least a full season in New York. Fortunately, I don't think the Blazers have any former Knicks we'll have to contend with.
Aren't you forgetting someone, Joe?
Well looky here...if it isn't the Grand Ayatollah of Basketball Stats himself, Bluecheese999. [applause]
Who am I forgetting, Cheese?
Oh, I dunno...only the greatest Knick big of all time who averaged less than 4.5 points per game.
Michael Doleac? [cue laugh track]
Not quite, Joe...I'm talking about Jared Jeffries!
Oh snap! JJ is coming to play? The Knicks are screwed then!!!
Maybe not. Let's consult...
The Jared Jeffries Shot Tracker:
Last Blazers preview, I tried to prove that Jeffries would be better than anyone currently on the Knicks. Now I'll prove the opposite: the Knicks' replacements for JJ can do just as much. This is the second straight season the Knicks and Blazers play on March 14. Last season, the Knicks won 121-79! Jeffries's numbers in that game: 2-2 from the field, 4 points, 4 rebounds (2 offensive and 2 defensive), 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 turnovers.
Thanks, Bluecheese. If the Knicks didn't have enough bad vibes working against them - they might be facing LaMarcus Aldridge, and the curse of Eddy Curry. As bad as the Knicks are against ex-Knicks, at least they've won a game or two, but they are 0-3 against players drafted with the picks given up in the Eddy Curry deal (Joakim Noah and Aldridge). Aldridge is listed as questionable for Thursday, so we might dodge a bullet here - you know if we had luck on our side, which we don't.
Don't feel too good about losing Aldridge, though, because the Blazers still have three guys who in the lineup who dropped at least 18 points on us last time out - Nicolas Batum (26 points), Damian Lillard (21 points) and J.J. Hickson (18 points, 9-for-11 from the field). That Damian Lillard line looks a little light, does it not? I wouldn't be surprised if he doubled it this time around.
The Blazers are above average on offense (11th in ORtg) and craptacular on defense (25th in DRtg). There's not a lot they do particularly well, on either side of the ball, except defending the three (5th in Opp 3P%). Crap.
This game will be a homecoming of sorts for former Blazer Raymond Felton. I'm sure the Portland fans will be happy to see him. Or maybe not. You mean Ray was pudgy last season? Harrumph! Harrumph! Ray has been pretty damn adequate this season - which was a good thing, basically all of our above adequate players - injured their respective knees - but apparently he seriously crapped the bed last year. And this hasn't been a great few months for the people of Oregon - they didn't get a chance to lose to Alabama in the BCS national championship game, the Blazers are below .500, and those posers up in Washington state somehow managed to legalize weed before they did. Oregon has been kicked around for two long, and they're ready to take it out on Ray.
Well, count me among Ray's strongest supporters in this fight - nobody messes with our penguin! Also, I have a problem with Oregon. Don't get me wrong - it seems like a cool, chill place, and I've always wanted to visit, but an experience several years ago in China has made me wary of the Beaver State. I was introduced to a young American couple who I was told came from Delaware and New Jersey, respectively. I tried to get them to open up about their roots - "Where you from in Jersey?" "Oh, you went to UD (University of Delaware)? In Newark (Delaware)? Lot of racist bars in that area...kinda creepy, right?" - but they seemed a bit evasive. Finally, the woman tried to clear the air: "We lived in Oregon before we came out to China, and we really consider that our home. Me, I grew up in New Jersey, but I don't really consider myself a New Jersey person, you know what I mean?"
No, lady, I do not know what you mean. The way you pronounced "New Jersey", dripping with self-loathing, will haunt me until the day I die. If your boyfriend wants to renounce Delaware, then more power to him, but nobody just throws away their Jersey heritage like that. I've lived outside of Jersey for a long time now, and I've endured Jersey jokes everywhere from DC to Inner Mongolia, but New Jersey self-hate is something I will not allow. We come from a proud tradition - Grover Cleveland is from Jersey, my mom is from Jersey, Peter Dinklage is from Jersey!
Screw it, I'm calling this game: 103-99, Knicks. The Knicks are going to remember that they used to play with pride as recently as five days ago, and Felton is going to light the Blazers up. Do it for Jersey, Ray, you fat bastard!