After nearly having last night’s game washed out by a rain delay, the Knicks narrowly escaped a game that closely resembled a slip and fall scam. There was an endless stream of green light specials, a crucial non-green light reversal, two crunch time double dribbles (!?!?), Kevin Knox played, there was an 18-point fake comeback from the other team. Nothing was normal and the Knicks eventually pulled off the win!
Beating a playin rival and getting back to even-Steven on the season should be reward enough, but in this ever-unfolding saga, one of the league’s most storied franchises is entering the arena.
Tom Thibodeau apparently hates showing too much favoritism and wants to keep everyone guessing. Elfrid Payton had one of his best halves of the year and ended up getting only 16 minutes. Granted once Toronto put the zone on, it was time to scrap the game plan. Rather than give a certain rookie sniper all he could handle, Thibs went to a struggling Alec Burks to manage the game when it was on the line. So, be advised, anything can happen. Elf can play what is probably the right amount of minutes in what is probably not the ideal spot in the rotation. If that’s possible maybe he can even get those same minutes off the bench, no?
Elfrid Payton v Dennis Schroder
Reggie Bullock v Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
RJ Barrett v Talen Horton-Tucker
Julius Randle v Markieff Morris
Nerlens Noel v Andre Drummond
No. The Lakers are missing their top guns, Lebron James and Anthony Davis. So this is obviously a game that the Knicks actually have a much better shot at winning than the schedule seemed to indicate not all that long ago. Additionally Kyle Kuzma, Wesley Matthews and Marc Gasol are all questionable. Oh and Jared Dudley is considering not undergoing season ending surgery on his torn MCL so that he can contribute to the team’s success in a month... maybe. Fuddy Dudley is this generation’s Brian Scalabrine.
I wonder if Zach Zarba will be refereeing tonight. Zarba presided over the Lakers-Nets game on Saturday as well as the Knicks-Raptors last night. Both games had their weird moments.
Keys & Predictions
Whatever RJ Barrett is becoming, I like it.
RJ is 24-46 (52%) from the field in the clutch this season. 30 players have taken >40 clutch shots. RJ is 5th in %.— Jack Huntley (@trippingbballs) April 12, 2021
RJ is not a normal 20-year-old. pic.twitter.com/4HIt6OdzGY
Just plugging away, not a statistical glamour puss and slowly but surely proving not to be a statistical aberration either. To do it in the clutch! Ah- we must kiss the chef. Tonight against the best defense in the NBA, New York may have their challenges and RJ’s steady hand will have to assuredly be hot. And RJ, put your foot into it.
Not only are the Lakers a top defense with multiple guys who make scrappy and swipey events all over the court but in particular at the rim, they also sport this new big ram, Andre Drummond. Despite the Lakers being just a middling offensive rebounding team on the season, tonight the Knicks may need to get a little extra oomph out of the Taj Gibson minutes. Drummond will assuredly slam dance his way to the offensive glass and possibly shatter it. Nerlens Noel just can’t box anyone out and Julius Randle doesn’t seem to do it with much gusto. Well the Lakers play hard, you’re not exactly just gonna collect and go the other way simply because they missed one. Everyone needs to get in their and fight.
This game may end up being a defensive gem, and if so, I think Julius Randle might be the single best player on the floor tonight. The team with the best player tends to win right?
Game is at 7:30, Knicks by -44.
They really gotta keep that big chump off the glass. A win tonight will get the Knicks back over .500 and butt them up against the seventh place Celtics, a mere half game back. This is a game that because of injury, you’ve been gifted with an opportunity. Can they seize the moment? Or will they succumb to tired legs and tired minds?