The Knicks face off against the Celtics tonight. Both teams have their first SEGABABA of the young year. New York, one of the worst teams in the NBA (according to everyone), lost on a last second shot to the interstellar Goliath Brooklyn Nets whereas Boston couldn’t get enough stops and stumbled in their sprint to the finish against a very crispy Toronto Raptors team.
Looking up and down the rosters, there’s nowhere for the Knicks to really exploit a distinct advantage. This game will come down to how much can you limit the Celtics’ teamwork and creativity. Can the Knicks erode some of Jayson Tatum and Kyrie Irving’s shotmaking capabilities? Can you turn Jaylen Brown into a primary initiator?
The Celtics are so good up and down their roster. Starters and rotation players give maximum effort or they get pulled from the game. New York will have to exceed Boston’s tenacity to stay within reach. Win all the 50/50 balls and generate scoring in more funky ways than we’ve seen so far. Cus it ain’t gon’ be easy.
I’ll be zeroed in on Al Horford vs Enes Kanter. Kanter proved he can score on a shot blocker like Jarrett Allen but can he bully and slip his way around a more stout defender like Horford? Flipping sides, Kanter needs to be willing and assertive giving the second effort guarding Horford in pick and pops. If switched, he’ll need to contain wild shot makers like Tatum and Irving or tricky speedsters like Brown, Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart. That’s not good.
Boston’s entire bench is nasty and edgy and their aggression could get the young Knick bench frazzled. It will be interesting to see if Mitchell Robinson can get some minutes and produce. The vertical dimension he brings to the game might be able to suck Boston’s defenders closer to the paint than they’d like. Where Robinson can go on a short roll remains to be seen. It would be pretty fantastic if Robinson got some spin and figured out a way to set off Marcus Morris. I would love more than anything to see Mitchell go 2-for-2 getting the Morris twins tossed.
If we don’t see Robinson, the quite beefy Noah Vonleh will have to load up against the Western beefy Aron Baynes. Chances are Vonleh won’t find himself a ton of help with savvy passing and relocating from Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier. I think I smell foul trouble.
Baynes has been knocking down some threes recently too. Mostly in the corner, he’ll take some out to the wing to keep defenses honest. So whoever is out there, they can’t just park on the edge of lane and wait to see if they can’t jostle Baynes before he gets deep position.
The Celtics just have a gigantic head start on the Knicks organizationally. They are ready to compete for the championship right now. That truth is further amplified by the Knicks missing Kristaps Porzingis. A player of his caliber could catapult the Knicks into the thick of things on any given night. Unfortunately they can’t lean on their main string bean. Will Kyrie Irving try to get cute at the Garden? Yes that’s very likely.
Will the Celtics win the 50/50 balls and spin the Knicks like a dreidel until they get the open look and still make some tough shots? Seems probable.
Will Gordon Hayward use this game to prove that he still has the goods? Yea tonight might the time to turn it loose.
New York won’t be able to tighten up their defense and won’t be able to get much going on offense. Knicks go on smoko, win by -34.
UPDATE @ 2:22
Shams Charania has reported that Gordon Hayward will not play tonight and instead rest his recovering ankle.
Gordon Hayward (someone wrote "Jablowme" in permanent marker on the back of all his jerseys) is out Saturday.— NBA Injury Report (@NBAInjuryR3port) October 20, 2018
Boo hoo, not gonna miss ya Gordy. If there was a lunatic that put a gun to my head and asked me who will start in his place, I would say Aron Baynes gets the start. Then I would get shot, but I would survive and then I would say Marcus Morris and then I would die.