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Game Preview: Knicks vs Suns, 4/26/2021

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Can they hit double digits?

Phoenix Suns v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The blood hysteria inching over the NBA patchwork has revealed both a stoic Knicks-shaped tourniquet and a grinning Knicks-straight razor, disappearing into the crowd together. New York is now seven games over .500, behind nine consecutive wins. A red hot squeeze on every bleeding brain floating through the ether. Every TV and radio shock jock hack, countless twitter-confident spews. Their heads all swell to a cranial pink sock, hemorrhaging out until it slaps a blobby goo, heavy against their earlobes. This feverish night terror, the Knicks, are good. Mewl.

Enter the Phoenix Suns, second place in the dreaded Western Conference. They’re currently on a five game road trip where they snared the first two wins against Milwaukee and Philadelphia then lost to Boston and Brooklyn. Tonight is their last chance to have a successful trip before they head home to take on the breads of their Western sandwich, the first place Jazz and third place Clippers.

This game carries a huge weight both ways. If the Knicks win, their next two games come against the Denzel Valentine-led Bulls and the fearsome Houston Rockets who are giving RJ & Julius type minutes to Kenyon Martin Jr. and Armoni Brooks. If New York were able to get to twelve wins, they’d tie the Jazz for the longest streak in the NBA this season. Meanwhile the somewhat slept on Suns are hot for a win, and this could help vault them more firmly into the “championship?” stratosphere.

Phoenix Suns v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Projected Starters

Coach Thibodeau remains steadfast in his support of Elfrid Payton. Of late the strings on old Elf have tightened, if only a little bit. Thibs still gives him full rotations to mangle in the first and third but he’s only eclipsed 20 minutes twice during this streak. If he has an advantage I want him taking it, if he doesn’t, I want him taken out.

I assure you we see it all. I won’t get into it, as much as I always want to, but we just have a difference of opinion, Tommy. Alec Burks remains in the COVID protocol. Thankfully RJ Barrett has filled out that spot in the rotation very nicely, working extremely well with Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley. A dollop of on-ball reps could rub some spices on a sometimes dry chop of minutes if Thibs finds them in need of seasoning.

Elfrid Payton v Chris Paul

Reggie Bullock v Devin Booker

RJ Barrett v Mikal Bridges

Julius Randle v Cam Johnson

Nerlens Noel v Deandre Ayton

For Phoenix Jae Crowder and Langston Galloway are considered day-to-day and they’ll likely be welcoming Dario Saric back into the mix after sitting against Brooklyn to rest a bum wheel.

Phoenix Suns v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Keys & Predictions

Putting the screws to the elusive Devin Booker and the abusive Chris Paul will be keys for the defense. The Suns will have to figure just what the hell on earth they wanna do with Julius Randle though. Toronto found out the hard way that big, strong wings can’t guard him (OG Anunoby), and neither can athletic speedy bigs with swords for arms (Pascal Siakam). Oh and double teams proffer little results as well.

It will be interesting to see if the Suns try to zone up against New York a little or if they just try to double from tricky angles. You can guarantee Chris Paul will hang all the way off Elfrid Payton and Deandre Ayton will probably give Nerlens Noel an extra berth to corral New York’s All NBA forward.

Game is at 7:30, Knicks by -32.

Phoenix Suns v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Parting Shot

Whatever happens tonight, the Knicks have had a hard time getting a whistle this season, and you can guarantee Chris Paul will be hounding them for every perceivable call, all fucking game. I can’t wait to be intensely bothered by the bitching, moaning and complaining. The wailing tears of a man-baby who can’t rely on their virtuoso talent alone. Such a tiresome personality. I hope the Knicks grab him and shake him.

Phoenix Suns v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images