Daybed Fizdale. You know what I mean? Don’t get too comfortable.
The Knicks (2-8), two games out of the eighth seed, head to Chicago to face the Bulls (3-7). Right now the story that will dominate the game is David Fizdale’s fate and possibly even the Knicks front office big wigs, Steve Mills and Scott Perry. Will Fizdale get canned just as the season gets rolling for the second time in his career? Will Perry and Mills get chopped down when the season ends? Can James Dolan make good hirings after that? Will he just sell the team? There will be a ton of I told you so articles, podcasts and tweets galore. Pay attention to ME. I’ll guide you through it. I’ve seen the hells and I see the tunnel at the end of the light.
Don’t trust the ruin. Sure the Knicks should be better than they’ve been, and yes there is still plenty of time to work some things out. There are also some obvious fixes that could bring them up to competitive speed, which was the only real expectation heading into the season anyway. Playoffs would have meant they reached their big ceiling. With a glut of guard depth and bigs that were promised roles and playing time that they largely haven’t earned outside of practice (perhaps) and contract negotiations.
This is fine. It’s bad but it’s fine. Make a team around Frank Ntilikina, RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson. Get some specialized cutters, shooters and defenders to revolve around that trio. If the other parts don’t support that house, they can be shown the exit, and that starts with the coaching situation.
Otto Porter is day-to-day but officially out with a foot booboo. Wendell Carter Jr. is listed as day-to-day but is probable with a thumb bop. Mitchell Robinson remains out from a head whomp and is in the concussion protocol. Elfrid Payton hasn’t played since the last game against Chicago, a rousing win, he’s out with a spammed and pinged hamstring.
Perhaps this is the game that re-introduces Dennis Smith Jr. A little more penetration and the gumption to abandon sets and call for a high screen might be helpful in the immediate. It will add yet another uninterested defender to the rotation, but David Fizdale is coaching for his joblihood and you know he loves those doggie dudes that just bark out their own commands to create for themselves. Goodbye, Frank, Dennis has got to get gotten right and you need to be made paranoid of your job security. Funny how that karmic reaction has found a home with Fiz.
Key Matchups & Prediction
Lauri Markkanen has been struggling to find his touch. Tonight may be the matchup he’s been waiting for. With the Knicks reeling and Lauri searching, Jim Boylen would be wise to get him some minutes against the Knicks second unit with Kevin Knox and Bobby Portis. Just get your EZ Pass out.
Bad foul at the end (Knox got caught sleeping, throwing everything off), but man...Frank's on ball defense again just pops.— Spencer (@SKPearlman) October 8, 2019
I know he's not an elite athlete, but I do think he's an underrated one & his athletic traits + his length makes more than makes up for whatever he lacks. pic.twitter.com/WykXEL6RV0
Speaking of Knox, he’s battling Zach LaVine for the least aware defender in the league. Which makes you wonder, should the Knicks attack LaVine with RJ Barrett or should they get Julius Randle speedboating into three defenders? Randle’s primary defender will likely be Wendell Carter, the other two will be the guys he shakes, spins and jolts into. The best part about doubling and tripling Randle is that you can do it from one pass away. Guards in particular should bring the help because Orange and Blue Julius loves to keep the ball low. I think I had officially learned not to do that in third grade, but I’m not a coach or in the NBA, so what do I know?
Zach LaVine: "I’m just tired of people talking shit about my defense."— Mark (@mkhoops) October 31, 2019
Also LaVine: pic.twitter.com/EDQx0WVx88
Remember last time the Bulls played the Knicks and Bobby Portis had the best game of his career? Well expect that lightning to strike out. Still, Portis camped on the block will be a noticeable chunklet of the offense. That and DHO’s to nowhere.
Knicks by -8 (per quarter), so essentially Chicago 100, New York 68. Go, team!
Warm Up Music
David Fizdale is nothing if not a perfect metaphor for the Combination Acts of the early 1800’s in Great Britain. Frank and RJ, the Balenciaga Boys, are scaring him to death as The French Revolution. Please don’t banish them to opposite end of the earth/bench/league. That’s no reason to treat the populace like they don’t deserve their fair share, David.
The best dogs subscribe to pack mentality.