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Game Preview: Knicks at Rockets, 5/2/2021

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Houston, you have a problem.

Yao watches Lakers and Knicks game
Knicks set, Knicks set, Knicks set!
Photo by Bill Baptist NBAE via Getty Images

With Chicago’s latest loss, the Knicks officially cannot fall below tenth for a spot in the playin tournament. Currently sitting in fourth and with only a handful of games separating them from the rest of the pack, each game is coming in hot!

Tonight they’ll face Kevin Porter Jr. and the tanking Houston Rockets. With literally nothing to lose, the Rockets are feeling free to throw haymakers and Porter landed one square on the Bucks’ snoot the other day.

Last night the Rockets got spanked by the Warriors though and now they’re heading into the Garden a day later and the big question is whether they’re excited to get the bad taste out of their mouth or if they just want this damned season to be over with.

New York Knicks’ Stephon Marbury passes the ball in front of Photo by Keith Torrie/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Projected Starters

Crazy injury bug down there in Houston this season. Something must be in the air. Too soon? Too constant, pervasive and mutating? I’m already looking forward to my booster. David Nwaba had wrist surgery in March. Dante Exum is done for the year with a nasty calf strain that he suffered in January. Then there’s the dreaded “no timetable to return” situations for DJ Augustin, Eric Gordon and John Wall. They must really be ailing! Avery Bradley: out. Danuel House: out. Sterling Brown is out with what is listed as a knee injury, but he was recently viciously assaulted in Miami, so he’s actually excused, in my opinion.

Elfrid Payton v Armoni Brooks

Reggie Bullock v Kevin Porter Jr.

RJ Barrett v Jae’Sean Tate

Julius Randle v Kelly Olynyk

Nerlens Noel v Christian Wood

That brings us around, at last, to the Knicks, who are in need of a win tonight. The last hurrah of this six-game home stand. New York has gone 14-6 in their last 20 games, a tidy .700 winning percentage! Despite the recent run of success, nothing has come easy this year, just barely keeping their noses above water for the first few months. This stretch has vaulted them up the ranks, obviously, but they could easily stall out over their remaining games as teams claw and scratch for every inch of standings space. Gotta keep the hot shooting going.

Allan Houston of the New York Knicks (L) shoots th Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images

Keys & Predictions

Just because every ship doesn’t set thrusters for space doesn’t mean there aren’t still some elevators flying out of NASA. Docking here in the Garden the doors open and out *comes a calamitous flood of limbs and fingers and things. A floppy couple braids dangling like a hippie’s lazy peace sign, man. I’ll say this, folks, don’t try the punch.

Who will crawl into the galactic tree fort of Kevin Porter’s lysergic combo dribble mania and simply push him to an unceremonious doom? Reggie Bullock has struggled at times with the choppy waters that slip and flood into open space. Tough cover, that what goes wherever the hell. Since Elfrid Payton has to play, he actually does a decent job when he picks up 50+ feet and harangues fellers into getting rid of it or wasting an extra few seconds trying to dance their way into a set. I’d set Elf on him and have Reggie chase Houston’s little sniper, Armoni Brooks around.

The other worrisome pieces is that New York has had trouble containing big shooters. Well Houston sports two bigs who can let it fly. Smelly Olynyk and Christian Wood, who has made a leap into officially being a major spoke in a much bigger wheel that isn’t fully assembled just yet. Houston is a work in progress but that just means they have a bevy of players that can vault themselves into some kind of max contract if they play well.

Game is at 8:00, Knicks by -11.

1994 NBA Finals Game 7: New York Knicks vs. Houston Rockets Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Parting Shot

Yao Ming was one of the all time greatest and most likable NBA characters. Aside from being huge and hugely talented. He completely altered the landscape for the NBA business as basketball became wildly popular in China. Lots of folks live there or something. That foothold helped launch this weird industry into the stratosphere and now basketball is the only game that matters and in fact all other sports are a dumb fucking waste of time.

Anyway, Yao didn’t know anything until the real big fella hit the scene.

Houston Rockets’ assistant coach Patrick Ewing gives some ad Photo by Linda Cataffo/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

UPDATE: The unintelligent writer of this horrible preview thought the game was in NY. It’s not. So, ya know, names and places are changed or whatever to protect the guilty.