Tonight the Knicks set up shop at home for the first of two games against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs are 2-0 so far in the pre-season, knocking off the Pacers twice at home. After this set it’s on to the regular season where the Knicks will take on those very Pacers. Tom Thibodeau has made it plain that the rotation needs to iron itself out and that will happen over the next several games and possibly weeks.
Ultimately that means there are a bunch of slots that remain fairly wide open. With only two more bites at the apple, Mitchell Robinson seems squarely behind Nerlens Noel and Obi Toppin is clearly behind Julius Randle. For Cleveland, their rotation is probably a little more hammered down but several day-to-day injuries have given backups and newcomers a little extra play.
Elfrid Payton | Darius Garland
Alec Burks | Damyean Dotson
RJ Barrett | Isaac Okoro
Julius Randle | Larry Nance Jr.
Nerlens Noel | Andre Drummond
As Tom Thibodeau continues to do some light mixing and matching the biggest questions will be whether or not he intends to push Dennis Smith Jr. out in favor of an extended look at Immanuel Quickley. Another thing to look for is whether or not the Kevin Knox experiment is drawing to a close. If Austin Rivers is ready to go, it probably pushes those two down the rotation with guys like Alec Burks and Frank Ntilikina.
Keys & Predictions
Cleveland is prognosticated to be on the bottom of the standings with New York at the end of the season but they have shown fewer structural issues than the Knicks after the first two contests. The impending re-introductions of Collin Sexton and Kevin Love should only help.
My guess is Damyean Dotson won’t waste an opportunity to chuck against the Knicks who let him go for no good reason and didn’t really give him a fair shake when he was around. D-Dot revenge game.
Knicks by -16.
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