You like pro basketball? Well the Knicks are squaring up with the Grizzlies tonight. The Robert Randolph tape is cued up and a Friday night schedule loss is set to take place. New York has done some brutal losing of late. They dropped the two most recent games by two points each. Lost twice to the Sixers by a combined four points. The Timberwolves, worst team in basketball, stormed back to beat the Knicks by one.
Memphis is trending the opposite way; winners of four consecutive and seven of their last ten. They’ve even blown by and popped some of those teams the Knicks just can’t figure out like Miami and Minnesota.
If that’s not enough, I’m sure big bonehead and world-renowned ball ache, Wally Szczerbiak will be wearing his Big Country Reeves socks to certify the L. Maybe RJ Barrett and the gang can keep his hot shooting going and pound on some of the Grizzly wings to give the floundering Knicks a puncher’s chance.
One thing you won’t have to worry about is the excessive depth of these Memphis maulers. Their bigs are a little thin with Brandon Clarke doubtful and Jaren Jackson returning near the end of April. On the perimeter Justise Winslow and De’Anthony Melton are both no-go’s.
Elfrid Payton v Ja Morant
Reggie Bullock v Grayson Allen
RJ Barrett v Dillon Brooks
Julius Randle v Kyle Anderson
Nerlens Noel v Jonas Valančiūnas
As for New York?
It’s like the song says, either you slinging crack rock or your shitty ass shot gets packed and blocked. Go on ahead, Knickerbockers. Your unimaginative stylings are beguiling.
Keys & Predictions
Now, if you’re like me, and you think the pick and roll is the foundation to this shit, ask yourself this question: How do you guard the combination of lightning fast, above the rim style point guard who can pass his ass off and the ballet stepping lumber and hammers style center with deft touch? That’s what the Knicks are up against. Ja Morant is crafty and hitting switches hitting the pit master, Jonas Valančiūnas in stride.
That simple play made elegant by a team that enjoys playing together is gonna get ya. It just is. How the Knicks get up into Morant to press his dribble, and sink under to dare him to shoot will be the vortex where life and death swirl together. Whatever sputters out goes on to exist in the hereafter.
If I were at the controls, but subjected to Thibodeau’s rotation cirrhosis, I would try to get a look at Julius Randle on Morant. Sink way under, and if you need to switch it, swapping Randle onto Valančiūnas and Noel onto Morant makes me feel almost light and airy. As we saw in the game against Brooklyn, Randle can tap dance out there with Kyrie Irving. Juicy Ja is nowhere near that type of pull up threat.
Now hear me out, the rest of the lineup is on the smaller side. RJ Barrett can certainly handle Kyle Anderson and this allows Elfrid Payton to chase around Grayson Allen instead of shuffle behind Morant as if he needs to make sure the tennis balls are still on his walker. Maybe Payton and Allen will get into a fist fight and both get suspended for 50 games. Win-win.
Game is at 7:30, Knicks by -3.
After tonight the Knicks head into next week with a slate of games against Julius Randle’s former teams. Maybe the added bonus of sticking it to the Pelicans and Lakers for not having the vision to hang onto this All Star will kick him into gear. It’s been a bit of a slog for Truck Jules of late. Can’t let any big bums take advantage of you if the goal is to make the playoffs.