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Game Preview: Knicks @ Nuggets, 5/5/2021

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Cinco de Mayo!

Denver Nuggets v New York Knicks, 11-3-76 Photo by Mark Junge/Getty Images

Cruising on to the altitudinous town of Denver, New York has a chance to stamp a big scary Timb into the Rocky Montanas. These Nuggets aren’t just some big old sand trap, of course. Even without Jamal Murray they cast quite an imposing shadow over the NBA landscape with MVP-hopeful, Nikola Jokic, bellying his way wherever he damn well pleases and flitting preposterizations all over the gully.

The Nuggs will be about as thin as the air tonight, maybe that will give the Knicks just enough room to float a winner above their fingertips.

Denver Nuggets v New York Knicks Photo by Mark Junge/Getty Images

Projected Starters

There’s a couple little scrapes going on with the big fellas for both teams but there’s a chance that everyone makes a go of it. Less so for the Knicks.

Still, there’s a possibility that Jokic takes a day off to make sure his toe works for the playoffs. Right? Why play against one of the rough-housingest group in the league? There are a lot of players out for this team, so a little rest up seems unlikely. The guard depth is so shallow, it actually makes me wonder if there is a chance to steal this one.

Elfrid Payton v Facundo Campazzo

Reggie Bullock v Austin Rivers

RJ Barrett v Michael Porter Jr.

Julius Randle v Aaron Gordon

Taj Gibson v Nikola Jokic

Something freaks me way out about the potential for an Austin Rivers revenge game. The things he did to Utah were unfathomable. New York is a top defense, can they be disemboweled by a similarly cruel deluge? Nah, right?

Denver Nuggets v New York Knicks, 11-3-76 Photo by Mark Junge/Getty Images

Keys & Predictions

I mean what can ya do? This guy is just perversely impervious to defense.

Do you let Jokic get his and just take away as much of everything else as you can? One of the best problems to have is Taj Gibson being one of the league’s more cerebral pick and roll defending big men. As the action gets downhill Taj just has the innate sensibility to keep everything in front of him, arms spread across the entire lane. But if the action bulges out to the three-point line, Gibson’s instincts need to adjust because none of the guards can parry that switch.

Then there is the rather immense issue of Michael Porter Jr.’s marksmanship. I guess drop foot is no big deal after all. Can RJ Barrett bully him into slightly shakier hesi-pulls? Keep him from balancing and keep yourself from fouling? I worry.

Sure would be nice to smoke these Nuggs though.

Game is at 9:00, Knicks by -33.

Denver Nuggets v New York Knicks, 11-3-76 Photo by Mark Junge/Getty Images

Parting Shot

There’s tonight and three more road games on this trip. Two in Los Angeles. The Knicks have clinched a winning season. They are next in line in the East to clinch a playoff spot with Philly, Brooklyn and Milwaukee all officially in. Yes the Knicks are fucking fourth, holy shit.

The season ends with a pair of home games against Charlotte (8th) and Boston (7th) Staying above the fray while on the road will render those games just spoiler hit jobs. Imagine cutting down the Celtics on the final day of the season and dropping them to the bottom of the playin?

Drop the scimitar. Time to break out the Borsalino.

Denver Nuggets v. New York Knicks Photo by Mark Junge/Getty Images