So...the Knicks are playing...umm...well? Not well? Both?
The upcoming schedule presents them with more of what they faced in the last two games - a back-to-back featuring a home game they probably shouldn't win and a road game they probably should win. Will the Knicks continue their schizophrenic ways, or can they put together four halves of quality basketball?
To the previews!
Wed., March 6 - @Detroit Pistons
Chinese name: 活塞 (huo-sai) Lit. "moving plunger"
This game seems oddly important, doesn't it? This is the most winnable road game the Knicks will play in a looong time: check the schedule:
The easiest road game in the next five weeks is probably Toronto - the same Toronto team that has already beaten the Knicks twice. Upper echelon teams win on the road - the Knicks are 15-12 away from the Garden, and if they manage to stay above .500 after this stretch, even the most hardened Knick critic should be impressed.
Carmelo Anthony probably won't play. Fortunately, the Pistons will be without Andre Drummond, who hasn't played since early February, since he suffered a broken heart upon hearing Pablo Prigioni would not be playing with him in the Rookie-Sophomore game.
Those players aside, the Piston who scares me the most in this game is Kyle Singler. I see a lot of Mike Dunleavy in Singler, which worries me to no end. Now, you might consider my Dunleavy-Singler comparisons to be racism; personally, I think of it as anti-Dukism, which isn't quite the same as racism, since Duke occasionally allows non-whites to play for their team.
Kyle Singler can ball, people. I like his game, and I hate him even more for making me like him. This guy will kill the Knicks eventually - so it is written, so it shall be done. Let's just hope doesn't happen tonight.
Thurs., March 7 - Oklahoma City Thunder
Chinese name: 雷霆 (lei-ting) Lit. "thunderbolt"
Does anyone else think that "Thunderbolts" is a better name than plain old "Thunder"? I dunno..maybe I just have an irrational distaste for team names that don't end in "s".
One Night Only: the Fightin' Brewers play the Garden! Ronnie has played two games with the Thunder thus far. His second game was a fairly Brewer-esque outing - six minutes, zero points on zero attempts. But his first game chilled me to the depths of my very soul - five whole points on 2-of-4 from the field. He even made a three-pointer...where the hell do you get off making a three-pointer, Ronnie? To put that in perspective: Ronnie made one three in his last 12 games with the Knicks.
Believer it or not, however, Ronnie Brewer might not be the Knicks' biggest concern in this game. They also have this kid named Durant, who has gotten some recent pub. Last I heard of the guy, he was being passed over for the number one overall pick because he couldn't do any bench presses. I wonder how's he's been playing this year:
That's all well and good...but what can you bench, pansy? [flexes in front of the mirror]
Much has been made of Durant's shooting line this season - .500/.400/.900. It's a pretty exclusive club:
A couple of things jump out at me here:
- I'm suddenly a whole lot more worried about Jose Calderon in tonight's Pistons game.
- Reggie Miller is a punk-ass bitch.
- The Dirk-Durant comparison seems fitting. At age 24, Kevin Durant is pretty much Dirk Nowitzki in his prime...but three or four times more athletic.
So the Knicks have that to contend with. Oh, and don't forget Russell Westbrook, who I'm sure noticed all the press Stephen Curry received for his 54-point game at the Garden and is probably itching to get some of that attention. Oh, and don't forget Serge Ibaka, cashing in on all that promise and athleticism this season. Oh, and don't forget about Kevin Martin, one of the best bench scorers in the league. Oh, and don't forget reserve guard Reggie Jackson, who once hit three home runs off three different pitchers in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series...pretty impressive for a kid who was born in 1990.
How can the Knicks compete in this game? First, they need Carmelo Anthony back, and healthy. Say what you want about Melo, the guy usually gets up for these kinds of match-ups. A duel with Durant might be just what the doctor ordered - Doctor Alliteration, that is - to get Melo out of his recent slump. (That said, I hope he doesn't rush back if he isn't 100% healthy. This is a game that will draw a lot of attention, but it isn't that important in the grand scheme of things.)
The Thunder aren't quite perfect - they do have one weakness the Knicks are primed to exploit. The Thunder have a problem with turnovers (28th in TOV%), which happens to be one of the Knicks' prime areas of strength. Winning the turnover battle will be crucial if the Knicks are to have any chance in this game. Also, it might help if they can hold Durant and Westbrook to somewhere under 70 points.
Let's go Knicks!