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Game Preview: Knicks @ Trail Blazers

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Damn. Lillard.

New York Knicks v Portland Trailblazers Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The road trip continues as New York packs in to Portland to face the Blazers. Portland’s trail has been winding as their previous two games (both) against Memphis were postponed due to contact tracing. The Grizzlies were unable to have the minimum of eight players available. So the Blazers haven’t played a game since they lost to San Antonio last Monday. A week to practice and plan for this game does not make me feel comfortable! Let’s hope for rust and two weeks worth of home cooking fattening them up!

Portland Trail Blazers v New York Knicks

Projected Starters

Looks like Reggie Bullock isn’t feelin’ so hot and a sore neck has him doubtful for today’s game. Luckily he’s considered day-to-day so what little shooting the Knicks do have isn’t... gone? I guess. The Knicks are so close to full health and maybe someone will step in to fill the void for Bullock. Austin Rivers is day-to-day and Frank Ntilikina is still “out” on the injury report but both players are considered questionable. That is actually a step up from their previous status. Progress is being made! At the very least, they wouldn’t be traveling with the team if there wasn’t a chance of them suiting up at some point during this road trip.

Elfrid Payton v Damian Lillard
Alec Burks v Rodney Hood
RJ Barret v Derrick Jones Jr.
Julius Randle v Robert Covington
Mitchell Robinson v Enes Kanter

The Blazers can certainly tell you the harsh truth about the injury bug though. Zach Collins, Jusuf Nurkic and most recently CJ McCollum have all gone down with serious injuries and that’s why you see the defenseless lineup they’ll be tossing out there. I personally do not wonder what the Enes Kanter, Carmelo Anthony back line defense looks like.

Portland Trail Blazers v New York Knicks

Keys & Predictions

Elfrid Payton is gonna have to scrap that crap appearance against the Kings. He’ll need to dial into the Elfrid that got under Steph Curry all game. Only he’ll have to find a way to make the more ornery Damian Lillard work just as hard without getting too deep under his skin.

The other thing the Knicks may want to focus on is hunting Enes Kanter in pick and rolls. We’ve seen a growing synergy with RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson in the P&R, and I wouldn’t be shocked if we see them test it early with some Alec Burks and Robinson. Possibly even some Julius Randle and Mitchell stuff! As the heavy footed duo of Robert Covington and Kanter absolutely won’t be able to lift up with these two. Of course, if we’ve learned anything from Thibs, he’ll rely heavily on Elfrid Payton to get the job done here.

So really, by my count, Hellfrid is integral to their success on both ends tonight.

Knicks by -22

Portland Trail Blazers v New York Knicks Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Parting Shots

Here we have the legend, Dollar Bill Bradley, cutting off the baseline and anticipating the screen. Clyde on the right side of the pic, left side of the court, not seeing the ball and seeing his man.

Portland Trail Blazers John Johnson drives on N.Y. Knicks Bi Photo by Tom Middlemiss/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images