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Game Preview: Knicks @ Hawks, 2/9/2020

They play again today? Peachy.

The Knicks (17-36) had moments of real lethargy last night in Detroit and never had a lead until the fourth quarter. It definitely looked like they would fold at some point, the only question was when and how drastically. But, no! They turned it on and busted the Pistons out. Now they have a quick turnaround with an early start tonight in Atlanta against the Hawks (14-39). We probably shouldn’t mention anything but it’s officially a win streak.

The last time these teams met, it was shortly after Mike Miller took over. The Knicks just got back from a Westerly road trip and New York hung 143 on Atlanta. I’d think Atlanta might want a touch of revenge if they remember that beatific bludgeoning. Let’s return to a delightfully historic time.

These teams will meet one more time this season. It would be nice if the next one wasn’t a rubber match.

Projected Starters

Tons of injuries and question marks for the Hawks after a busy trade deadline. The big name they acquired, Clint Capela, is out with a heel injury. Their old pal Dewayne Dedmon is probable, though he was unable to make his re-introduction in their Friday meeting with Boston. Rookie, Cam Reddish, is in the concussion protocol. Skal Labissiere is doubtful with a knee jammy. Starters Trae Young and De’Andre Hunter, along with Deandre’ Bembry, are all questionable to play. Meanwhile Bruno Fernando and Treveon Graham are listed as probable.

The Knicks will likely have their first dose of Mo Harkless, who was in uniform last night but did not play. Allonzo Trier didn’t travel with the team to Detroit and remains out with a disease!

Keys & Predictions

Between the Hawks jumble of new players, guys that questionable due to injury, youth or maybe they have strip club-itis*. All that plus the Knicks playing their second game in less than 24 hours with a funky start time, their first chance to win five games in a row since 2014, Elfrid Payton on a fantastic being-everywhere streak. All of this stacks up to be a very dangerous game. You might even say, “It’s a trap”.

So this is going to test New York’s toughness. Not the toughness of whether or not they can clang someone over the head because they touched your arm. The type of toughness they’ll need tonight is the laser focus variety. Can’t get it at the store and it’s too late to run out anyway.

Payton did an excellent job orchestrating the march to victory last night. It’s going to take ten times the energy and attention to slow cook this one against a somewhat unknown opponent. You might not be able to just drape Frank Ntilikina over Trae Young and dare the rest of the Hawks to make open looks. Even if you can... watch out for the Vince Carter career retrospective game.

I’m 100% positive we’ll see Prince Vince unfurl 37 points on 8-11 shooting from deep with a couple dunks, three crucial rebounds in traffic and the step back dagger with under a minute to go.

Knicks by -7.

* Got ya, creep!

Warm Up Music

As much as I tell myself, these Knicks are too soul crushing, they need to play Frank more, Randle needs to move the ball, Knox needs some reps in the G-League, Iggy Brazdeikis and Kenny Wooten need time on the big squad, they need to send Portis to Nizhny Novgorod so he can play out his days giving Tsmoki-Minsk a real run for their rubles. As much as I say these things! I simply can’t change the channel. I still check in religiously. I always need another hit. Even though I know it doesn’t fix me and I know it’s tearing a real nasty hole. And the hole might be pretty infected, but I don’t want to look in between my toes to see whats going on down there.