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Game Preview: Knicks @ Timberwolves, 3/31/2021

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Out like a lamb in the wolf’s den?

Kevin Garnett Classic Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s been a challenging month of March for the Knicks. Mitchell Robinson is done for the year, just as he got back and was starting to look like his old self. Julius Randle and Reggie Bullock have gotten banged up. Derrick Rose missed ten games with COVID. Hard fought losses to the Nets and twice to the 76ers. They nearly chased down one of their best months in years. Hard fought wins by one against the Magic by one and the Bucks in Milwaukee have taken a toll on their bodies and the Knicks have had a long and arduous stretch here. New York has managed a 6-6 record with tonight’s game against the Timberwolves set to be a tie-breaker on an up or down month.

Not all was bad or lost no matter what happens. There were some blowout wins, they didn’t lose to any lowly opponents and RJ Barrett had possibly his best month as a pro so far. They handle their business like professionals night to night, beating teams that are not on their level. They have turned the corner and are hitting a straightaway, there’s just a lot of people on that path. The 11-win Wolves are the worst team in the NBA very easily. This should be one the games that helps the Knicks keep their heads above water.

Minnesota Timberwolves v New York Knicks
look at this goofy gettin his shit packed
Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Projected Starters

Here go the guys that probably open the game.

Elfrid Payton v Ricky Rubio

Reggie Bullock v Malik Beasley

RJ Barrett v Anthony Edwards

Julius Randle v Jaden McDaniels

Nerlens Noel v Karl-Anthony Towns

No he should not. That’s the whole point. Elfrid’s hair used to have a better follow through than his jump shot ever has. He’s simply not a starting caliber point guard in the NBA. Especially so on a decent team that has better options. Ask yourself: Would you start Ish Smith when Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley are on the team and available to play?

Poll

So. Would you?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    Yes, I’m a frail old man
    (18 votes)
  • 53%
    No, that doesn’t make any sense
    (125 votes)
  • 33%
    Let’s make this about Frank so I can deflect the original question and make it so that my argument can have some ill-gotten traction. And what happens is I get you to argue something related but a wholly different issue that holds its own water, oddly.
    (77 votes)
  • 5%
    Please, never nitpick anything, it’s unfair to the trappings of failure.
    (13 votes)
233 votes total Vote Now

Oh you wanna take a look at the control room before you decide? Sure, come on in, have a look around. Can I offer you a tasty beverage?

Hello.

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Keys & Predictions

The pivot will garner quite a bit of attention because Karl-Anthony Towns scores points but Nerlens Noel has the mobility and active hands to make KAT just screw his face up and plead for calls. Of course the Knicks have a tough time getting a whistle, so maybe that’s commonplace whiteboard material. Towns will also have his hands full with former teammate Taj Gibson who I think will old man game this kid into oblivion. Even though I might feel good about the front line’s chances they still have to put a stop to some of what this 50-40-86, 7-foot, 250 pound log splitter.

On the Knicks side of things, Julius Randle will face up against the inexperienced but wily Jaden McDaniels. He’s got teeth and claws but not much meat on his bones. Randle’s thigh injury may make him reluctant to guard out on the perimeter. If so and McDaniels can get hot, that could very quickly turn into a cascading set of game events. Just the same I like Randle’s chances.

I’m also excited to see RJ Barrett take a whack at the explosive rookie, Anthony Edwards. Usually RJ is a man among boys, but Edwards is a big slab of granite swinging an electric axe. Instead of trying to test his strength, RJ might be better served using his guile tonight. Get your goggles on, we’re in logging country, friends.

Game is at 8:00, Knicks by -13.

Minnesota Timberwolves v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Parting Shot

The Knicks are fifth in the Eastern Conference playoff picture but ninth place is only two games back. They can’t leave any crumbs on the plate. Everybody is nipping at their heels. Better to proactively block their path than hope they fall off the back.

Minnesota Timberwolves v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images