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Game Preview: Knicks @ Jazz, 1/26/2021

End of the road... trip

Utah Jazz v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

New York walks feebly into Salt Lake City on the edge of losing three out of four games on their westerly road trip. Despite coming dangerously close to stealing a win in Portland, the Knicks have looked very shaky for long stretches against the Blazer as well as the Kings. In both games reverting to an uncharacteristic (for this year) amount of iso-ball. They have almost no solutions for zone defenses and the league has taken notice.

If there is any hope to be brought into this game it’s that the Knicks (8-10) tuned up the Jazz (12-4) a couple weeks back. Of late though, Utah has been a burning ruby ember, heaving under dry leaves and setting absolute fire to their opponents. Winners of their last eight games and averaging 118 points with 19 three-pointers made per game over that stretch. Absolutely scorching. In fact the Jazz haven’t lost since the last time these teams met!

As much as the Knicks love to battle, hot shooting and competent defense can pull them apart like pork shoulder in the slow cooker. If not for a bad turn in the metropolis, with back-to-back losses to the Knicks and the Nets, the Jazz would be on a 12-game run right now. You have to think Utah is looking to exact a little revenge on account of that.

New Orleans Jazz v New York Knicks Photo by Ron Koch/NBAE via Getty Images

Projected Starters

We gonna do it? It’s definitely time. Hot off a career high 31 points. Which is a single digit greater than Elfrid Payton’s career high. Let’s just cut to the damn chase. I know they won’t, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t feel good to put this lineup down.

Immanuel Quickley v Mike Conley
Alec Burks v Donovan Mitchell
RJ Barrett v Royce O’Neal
Julius Randle v Bojan Bogdanovic
Mitchell Robinson v Rudy Gobert

Last game Frank Ntilikina was available but didn’t play. With any luck we’ll see him taking up all of Elfrid Payton’s minutes or at least some of Kevin Knox or Austin Rivers’. With Quickley getting my perceived bump into the starting role, it would be nice to keep a high level point of attack defender on the floor with the second unit because have you seen them defend?

New Orleans Jazz v New York Knicks

Keys & Predictions

In their win over the Jazz back in New York, the Knicks pull Rudy Gobert all around the floor and speared him with driving attacks that he simply could not stifle. They also had the Austin Rivers game.

He hasn’t had that since but when he’s got the juice, you gotta let him marinate.

Are the Knicks good enough to go .500 on a road trip? They have been so bad for so long that your first inclination might be, “of course not, stupid.” The thing is, this team may have finally brought back some semblance of the 90’s Knicks. A hard nose, defensive juggernaut that simply won’t go away! These Knicks aren’t a horrific free throw shooting team though, so maybe I have to take it back.

Knicks by -16

New Orleans Jazz v New York Knicks Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Parting Shot

Wall ‘em off, Walt! Clyde Frazier guards Pistol Pete Maravich in a game at Madison Square Garden in 1974. Two icons of the game battle it out. Today it might be something like Steph Curry and Chris Paul.

Shorter shorts are back in a lot of ways, but I don’t know that they’ll ever get to this nearly Daisy Duke height again. Regardless, I think we can do a little something more with our socks. What’s up socks? I’m a fan.

New Orleans Jazz v New York Knicks Photo by NBA Photos/NBAE via Getty Images