The Knicks already beat one Western club, the Lakers, this week. The Suns arrive on a streak of 17 straight years playing for a racist owner. They’ve won 14 games in a row, too. Will the Knicks get a convincing victory over a bonafide powerhouse or wilt in their radiance? Find out at 7 PM.
WHAT’S NEW IN PHOENIX?
The Suns came close but lost to Giannis and the Bucks in the 2020-21 Finals.
Head coach Chris Paul—er, Monty Williams, was runner-up for Coach of the Year. He lost to Thibs, who took the honor without the aid of a generational floor general commonly known as the Point Gawd. In fact…don’t get me started. I’m one deep-playoff-run away from getting a Thibodeau tattoo a la Roger Stone’s of Richard Nixon:
My wife, however, says Thibs curdles her blood. What can I say? I heart maniacs.
When the Suns started the year cold, many of us savored the schadenfreude of seeing a Finals team post a 1-3 start. Not for long. Phoenix regained their solar powers and have scorched through 14 straight games. Only the Warriors (16-2) possess a superior record.
Possibly the best point guard ever, Chris Paul is also revising our longevity expectations for NBA athletes. His 36-year old tires still have tread. Paul’s a heckuva pitchman, too: due to his association with the company, State Farm now covers flopping-related injuries.
Over 16 seasons, the flying flopper has averaged 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 9.4 assists, and 2.1 steals. In 16 games against Kemba Walker, the 10-time All-Star bested his averages with 19.3/5.6/9.8.
Against Derrick Rose, however, Paul’s played below average, going 16.3/4.3/8.7 in 15 games. Obviously, if Derrick’s ankle is healthy, he should play big minutes tonight.
SG Devin Booker is famous for dating Kendall Jenner, star of the reality show, Aliens Among Us. He’s also a fine hooper with a career line of 23.1/5.5/4.8. In nine games against Evan Fournier, however, Booker averaged 16.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 4.6 assists.
Historically, Evan has outperformed Devin on both ends: his career average of 12.8 points jumped to 19.6 in their nine games. Might we see two consecutive great Fournier games? (Spicy take: YES.)
SF Mikal Bridges, the $90 million man, is having a career year with 13 points and four rebounds per game. RJ Barrett is posting better numbers, though: 14.8/6.1/2.4. The Maple Mamba returned to form in Tuesday’s win.
PF Jae Crowder is a tough 10-year vet. In 11 games against Julius Randle, Jae’s career average of eight points jumped to 15. Conversely, Randle’s averages declined from 20.8 points to 17.7, and 10.3 rebounds to 8.5. Nevertheless, the larger Jules went 24 and 11 in their last game, and I predict an advantage.
C DeAndre Ayton versus Mitchell Robinson would be a fun Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla type match-up. I pray Mitch has cleared concussion protocol. When Phoenix last played New York, Ayton (26 points, 15 rebounds, +11) blistered Nerlens Noel (five points, five boards, -29). Ayton can be inconsistent, but he’ll give New York trouble tonight, especially on Suns’ screens. Ahem.
The Suns finish games in ways the Knicks have yet to learn. Most recently, Cleveland challenged them late, but Phoenix swatted them back with ease. Eventually, though, the Suns will be unable to fend off or fight back, and they will lose.
That loss comes now. Road wins are difficult. New York has shown signs of budding cohesion, they play to their opponent, and the Garden will be rocking. Plus, it’s my birthday. There’s no way my cherished Knicks will ruin it. The Suns go down tonight!
MSG. 7 PM. B-E-A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E, New York!