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Game Preview: Knicks at Pelicans, 4/14/2021

Another former Randle team.

New Orleans Jazz v New York Knicks Photo by Rich Pilling/NBAE via Getty Images

After one of his best games of the season, Elfrid Payton should be riding high on a homecoming in New Orelans today. Maybe their win over the Lakers was some kind of freaky Friday situation because RJ Barrett had one of his rougher outings in what has been an excellent stretch. RJ will probably be having a Duke family reunion with Zion Williamson tonight. Maybe Brandon Ingram will push his way in. I don’t want the youngster to not have his pregame race with Frank Ntilikina though.

Stay connected, you two! Take your jaunt to the French Quarter if you must. Get Zion full to the gills on beignets. With any luck it’ll keep him ground bound.

New Orleans Jazz v New York Knicks

Projected Starters

In some ways you want key contributors and role players to be out, it can give you a competitive edge. For a team like New York it might mean their advanced scouting leaves them a tad ill-prepared. Lonzo Ball is doubtful and James Johnson is questionable. Meanwhile Josh Hart and Nickeil Alexander-Walker are out for the next few weeks.

Elfrid Payton v Eric Bledsoe

Reggie Bullock v Wes Iwundu

RJ Barrett v Brandon Ingram

Julius Randle v Zion Williamson

Nerlens Noel v Steven Adams

Whether we wonder what Wes Iwundu was up to while one dude went wazoo could be all she wrote. The Knicks remain without John Henson whose ten-day contract ends tomorrow.

New Orleans Jazz v New York Knicks

Keys & Predictions

Well the Pelicans have been playing a lot of point Zion. A big question is do they want to switch the 4-5 pick and rolls? Generally the Knicks don’t switch if they don’t have to. Steven Adams sets a mighty meaty screen though. Ideally Julius and Nerlens can just shuffle under the screen and dare these rhinoceroses to take any and all varietals of jumpers. Otherwise you’re affording this guy a runway.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, New Orleans is leading the league in offensive rebounding, but they only take about 1.5 more threes per game than the Knicks. That means the long rebound that has been hurting the Knicks won’t be as prevalent. Nevertheless, the gang needs to get in there because Adams and Williamson take up space like the heads on Easter Island and then you got Jaxon Hayes flying in on his trapeze.

We’ll need every ounce of the wonderful efforts Taj Gibson has been giving as well because the Pelicans attempt the second most free throws per game in the league. Thankfully they connect on only 73%, second worst in the league. And we haven’t even touched on Brandon Ingram and his Stretch Armstrong-ian exploits.

The Knicks have their work cut out for them but the Pelicans have a strange way of beating themselves at times. Julius Randle also seems to like taking out his aggressions on former teams. In any case, New Orleans has won three consecutive, just like the Knicks have, and are only a game behind Golden State for a playin spot. So I’d expect them to come out all teeth and claws.

Game is at 8:00, Knicks by -23.

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

Parting Shot

The Knicks are on a three game win streak and are undefeated since Earl Monroe joined twitter. Let’s keep that going for the Pearl.

Give him a follow if your heart ain’t hollow.

New York Knicks Photo by Jim Cummins/NBAE via Getty Images