Following a riveting factual comeback to best the Chicago Bulls, the Knicks (1-3) travel south to tangle with the Magic in Orlando (1-2). Bobby Portis whupped on the Bulls in the fourth quarter and Julius Randle, RJ Barrett and Frank Ntilikina played their roles to near perfection. Let us relive.
Looking at the Magic, it’s nice to see the Knicks aren’t the only team on earth who have three point guards with varying degrees of needing minutes. Down in Orlando a triumvirate of lead guards have been battling for court time. In a cruel twist of the knife, Once A Knick (Coach), Always A Knick (Coach), Steve Clifford has decided to expand his rotation to include his least-utilized point man and given his guys clearly defined roles. Something David Fizdale simply can’t bring himself to do.
It seems like Fizdale will do the right thing tonight though, because much like Mike Woodson in 2012-13, he will be forced to. He’ll be forced to, right?
Normally this would be a Fizdale-sanctioned Elfrid Payton payback game. I suppose Elfrid would be doggedly paying back the Magic for letting DJ Augustin and Shelvin Mack outperform him and subsequently take his minutes. Alas, Payton came up gimpy in the previous game and will not be performing any tricks.
Elfrid Payton has now been ruled out for Wednesday’s game against Orlando due to a hamstring strain. https://t.co/j20ZBW4FKx— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) October 29, 2019
This means Frank Ntilikina should finally get a crack at this point guard slot and the minutes he needs to get comfortable. I know coach loves it when his guys are worried and paranoid, but maybe that’s a shit-infused idea. Fizdale loves to talk about positionless basketball, but if he slides everyone down a spot, he is really only giving you rudderless basketball.
His lip service about Ntilikina giving fantastic minutes and getting the team organized is just talking out of both sides of the mouth if he doesn’t get the kid on the floor with the right combo of teammates. In all honesty, I’d like to see Ntilikina, RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson as the starters — it’s not perfect, but neither is your preferred lineup.
Now watch the very disorganized Allonzo Trier start. Nooooo! Let us depart from this island aboard the steamship Ntilikina and land quietly on the shores of the NBA landscape, unnoticed. What if Frank doesn’t start?!?!
Key Matchups & Prediction
The Magic have some really talented guys that are going to give the Knicks a lot of trouble. Jonathan Isaac is figuring it out. Nikola Vucevic is as steady as it gets and has been a Knick nemesis for several years at this point. Aaron Gordon is probably drooling at the chance to get matched up with guys who blow rotations and give up on the occasional play.
However, I’m just gonna stay predictable. This game is completely about Frank. 400 percent. He’s up against his French national teammate, Evan Fournier. He’s got a doll house miniature, that can’t defend him to start in DJ Augustin. Michael Carter-Williams, with his terrible and easy-to-guard self, will get some minutes.
Then there’s poor Markelle Fultz, who has actually been fine and there’s cause for some optimism. But, first he had this crazy shoulder injury, then he gets traded to Orlando (a franchise that should be seized by the NBA board of governors and redistributed to the kind people of Seattle) and now this horrific injury.
One despises dragging their rods and cones over such an uproarious occurrence. Sure, Fred Van Vleet literally killer’ed this crossover, but Markelle leaving the play with seven broken ankles and three missing kneecaps after this assassination is just such a shame. How is he going to handle getting smothered by the Sultan of Swipe?
Knicks by 38.
Warm Up Music
Let’s crank those Halloween vibes way past “mom is uncomfortable with this.”
Kinda innocent like little babies except there’s some yokel demons evincing violence out side.