Well, well, well. We got ourselves the first west coast trip of the season! Make sure you don’t skip nap time because this could be a fun one. You do know the freaks come out at night, right? The Knicks (4-19) are geared up to burn one down with the Trail Blazers (9-15) for their annual appearance in Portland. A loss would drop New York to 4-20. That could be fun for a day.
Those scary Blazers and their scary fans are on a two game skid, which is treacherous in the West. Whereas the Knicks have dropped their last nine games and are probably only two games out of eighth still, am I right? (Narrator’s voice: they were seven games out.) Eight bludgeonings and one heart cracker that was just so obviously coming up for the otherwise lovely debut from new head coach Mike Miller. The team had the weekend together and got to practice at what looks to me like a dream gym. Take a look at the background. I can smell the Douglas Fir from here, Diane.
Portland.— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) December 10, 2019
Putting in that work. pic.twitter.com/rmdANppH9t
Gorgeous. Right up until you hear there’s a statue of that spooky little Duke basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski. According to the new head honcho, the Knicks are focused on simplifying coverages and sustaining the requisite pressure for more than half a quarter. No more needless and reckless switching. No alternate schemes based on part of the personnel. Rather they’ll lean into using their long defenders to chase over the top, drop bigs to contain and hopefully cause much damage. Hey, you know what that is? Sweet premium NBA defense. It starts and ends with the boring ass fundamentals, who’d of thunk it?
The Knicks have always been criticized for skipping steps. Maybe this is when someone will finally get them to commit to the building blocks and learn them forward and drawkcab. From there you develop the expectations of and the trust in your teammates. If all comes together, eventually you can improvise or throw in some junk defense. You must start with tact. Early signs are all knees and no bend, but the elegance of a simple plan is such a welcome departure from David Fizdale’s illogical, overthought gobbledygook.
The Blazers run of horrible injuries struck again recently. First it was Jusuf Nurkic breaking his leg in the playoffs. He hopes to return in the new year. Then, to open the season, Zach Collins had a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery. Now Rodney Hood has gone down with an apparent Achilles tear. The latest injury presses Kent Bazemore into a starting role and Anfernee Simons into a larger one.
As for the Knicks, health is largely in focus. Reggie Bullock and Wayne Ellington remain sidelined. The steady guide of Elfrid Payton may start to usurp some of Dennis Smith’s rickety minutes, while Frank Ntilikina’s power defense will continue to be the tip of the spear.
Doesn't sound like Mike Miller will make any changes at PG anytime soon. Said after practice today they've been getting off to good starts with Ntilikina leading that group. "Beyond that we’ll see how the game goes but we’re confident in all the [PGs] and know we can use them."— Chris Iseman (@ChrisIseman) December 9, 2019
Keys and Predictions
He pushed his way in, then got pushed out. He flopped around on a few boats. Got tossed back each time. It seemed like that could have been that, an abrupt end to a once uranium enriched scorer. Yet, at long last, Carmelo Anthony has returned to the NBA, this time in the lush Pacific Northwest. Melo has even won awards already! What a very aggressive go-getter.
He gotthatshitgetthefuckouttahere, James Harden, ya dag gone polecat! The Rockets have mathematically proven they deserve the right to file a complaint, but the award belongs to the digital athlete. I’m sure their investigation is ongoing. In any case, Carmelo will probably savor the flavor a little more tonight going up against the team that cast him aside first. So if that ball sticks, maybe the Knicks can use that to their advantage. Something tells me Julius Randle’s pretty decent on-ball defense will get jab stepped off the screen a couple times tonight. Luckily Melo will leave early when he breaks all ten fingers doing the hardest three to the dome of all time.
Portland of course is led by Damian Lillard, but I bet he is more of a table setter tonight. Drawing Ntilikina away from any action and forcing Frank to stay close because of his range. So that will lead to a lot of CJ McCollum terrorizing RJ Barrett for large stretches. I can already see the right to left crossover, push it out one bounce, RJ leaps at it, CJ spins back to his right, Bobby Portis leaps at it, pull up ten footer. CJ is the basketball equivalent of a kidney punch and it’s crippling.
Lillard chipping in, McCollum tossing ice picks into their ribs and Melo chopping wood on a variety of Knick defender, you look to that crunchy cut green bean in the corner. It’s the Always Energized Against Former Teams All-Star, Mario Hezonja. Super Mario will bang a few backbreaking jumpers and will get the game-winning block on a stumbling, bumbling Randle as time winds down.
Knicks by -5.
Warm Up Music
Through hurt remains hope. Take what you’ve learned to shape who you are. Are the Knicks ready to look in the mirror and see who they are?
RIP, Fred. ❤️ to Toody.