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Game Preview Knicks at Jazz- 12/29/18

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Smooth.

On to Utah! The Knicks (9-27) march (backward) triumphantly to Salt Lake City to face the dixieland acid of the Jazz (17-19) tonight. Utah has been tightening the vice after a rough start to the season. Most NBA pundits had Utah squarely in the top half of the best teams in the West, but the slaughter fest in that wretched conference has made it so no one knows who they are or where they’ll go.

That means, when you have a rabbit, don’t pull any punches, don’t try any magic tricks. Just give it a bunch of carrots and then WHAM! Murder it’s life, rips open it’s flesh, devour the innards, spit the bones.


Projected Starters

Assuming Tim Hardaway Jr. is over his illness and that Coach Fizdale saw something from Luke Kornet in the previous outing.

To complete hell with Enes Kanter’s guts and toughness. This lineup might be the new spark plugs New York has been needing.

Key Matchup

I love Kevin Knox but this freaks me out.

I’m very curious to see what Knox can do against a relentless defense that just keeps on snapping into place and is anchored by that gigantic neighborhood menace, Rudy Gobert. There’s just something about those guys that come from France. They seem to be game changing defenders. Strange. With any luck Luke Kornet’s gravity will pull him away from the paint just enough.

Anyhow, Knox has been on it lately. Finally figuring out where and how to ignite his floater game. It seems the flailing teenager is becoming a composed young man. No more deciding to get to the rim before creating an angle. No more leaping left and finishing right. Using his length to augment the lack of strength. Calculating smaller bursts of speed to pry open defenses while maintaining control over his wily limbs.

Certainly a huge part of his floor game opening up is that Knox finally started to connect on some catch and shoot opportunities. It took a few games and just focusing on getting his feet set, relocating, re-setting and letting it fly. Now his jumper is looking very clean and he can even wobble in and slip back out for these sort of step-out jumpers.

It’s not quite a step back, he gets his shoulder into the defender and meanders away and back. As the defender anticipates a second wave of the drive, Knox pounds the ball into his shooting pocket and just sprays it.

The next level for Knox will be to get to the rim draw the weak side shot blocker, and skip a pass back out to the open man. It’s not something he can do with two traditional bigs on the floor. It might be the only thing this Jazz defense let’s him get.

On the other side of the ball, of course, I worry about poor Kevin.

Prediction

The Knicks will come out strong with a lively pace and the ball hopping around. Enes Kanter gets into the game, sees Ekpe Udoh, and decides that it’s his time. The pace craters and Frank Ntilikina can’t seem to find the requisite space to drive. Ntilikina will take off his shoes and one of his socks. Fizdale won’t realize that he needs to move Emmanuel Mudiay to the second unit to grease the Enes-gears. The fire is not on the pot! They can’t cook the soup! The restaurant shutters.

Low scoring affair, around 106-99. Knicks get another W. This time by -7.

Warm Up Music

Play at your own pace! [turns pitch all the way down]