Did Monday’s dismantling of the Detroit Pistons convince you that this year’s Knicks are destined for greater glory than expected? Admittedly, the bug of irrationality bit me. Do I regret the Knicks 2022-23 Finals Champions tattoo yet? No, but ask again at Thanksgiving.
On Friday, the Knicks should continue their promising play against the visiting Indiana Pacers. This week, Rick Carlisle’s squad squashed the Charlotte Hornets, but that was mostly a battle between two potential cellar dwellers. The Pacers have promising talent, but not enough to keep up in a crowded Eastern Conference, and not enough to beat these steamrolling Knickerbockers.
Friday night basketball is back. Tune in at 7:30 p.m., Robert Randolph fanatics.
Jalen Brunson delighted in his first game as a Knickerbocker. Against the Pistons, he logged 16 points and five assists while shooting 7-9 from the field and 2-4 from three. This evening, Jalen’s defensive acumen will be tested by Tyrese Haliburton (6’5”, 185 lb.). As a sophomore last season, Haliburton averaged 15.3 points, four rebounds, and 8.2 assists. He shot 47% from the floor, and 41% from deep on 5.1 attempts per game. Still can’t believe Sacramento traded him….
Did Evan Fournier seem absent from Tuesday’s game? He had a quiet outing, scoring only five points and two assists in 18 minutes. He will definitely be absent tonight (rest). Look for Immanuel Quickley to be matched with Chris Duarte (6’6”, 190 lb.) who, in his rookie season with Indiana, averaged 13.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. The 13th pick in the 2021 Draft, the 45-year-old Duarte shot 43% from the floor and 37% from deep last season.
RJ Barrett put up 21 points, five rebounds, and two assists in his first preseason game while shooting 8-14 from the field and 3-5 from three. Tonight, his Pacers counterpart will likely be Buddy Hield (6’4”, 220 lb.) Hield is a sharpshooter but usually a delinquent defender (117.2 DRTG last season). Dealt from Sacramento mid-season, he played only 26 games in Indiana last year and averaged 18.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 4.8 assists. Over six NBA campaigns, Mr. Chavano Rainer Hield has shot 43% from the floor and 40% from deep.
Julius Randle finished Tuesday’s game with 15 points, six rebounds, and four assists in 18 minutes. After a rust-encrusted start, he got into a groove and ended up shooting 6-10 from the field, 2-4 from deep. Tonight Julius should dominate against the taller but smaller Jalen Smith (6’10”, 215 lb.). In his sophomore season, Smith averaged 9.2 points and six boards while shooting 50% from the floor and 33% from beyond the arc.
Mitchell Robinson put up six points, four rebounds, three blocks, and a steal on Tuesday. It doesn’t look like much written down but truly, Mitch dominated. He’ll square up against Myles Turner (6’11”, 250 lb.). In seven seasons, Turner has recorded career averages of 12.7 points and 6.7 rebounds and shot 49% from the floor and 35% from deep. You may recall some chatter about trading Mitch for Myles last season. I bet Mitch remembers and comes out rocking and blocking tonight.
With the Detroit game decided early, New York’s reserve big man Isaiah Hartenstein logged more minutes (27) than Mitch (18) and finished with eight points, seven rebounds, and two three-pointers. Isaiah should spend much of tonight working against the Pacers’ backup center Daniel Theis (6-8, 245lb).
Note: Basketball-Reference lists no nicknames for Hartenstein. Suggestions?
Ahead of the 2022 Draft, many pundits predicted that Bennedict Mathurin might fall to the Knicks. The Pacers grabbed him with the sixth selection instead. In three summer league games, the phenom out of Arizona averaged 19.3 points and four boards and shot 48.8% from the floor and 38.5% beyond the arc. On Wednesday, he logged 19 minutes and 15 points against Charlotte, so expect the 6’6” guard to get some run in tonight’s tilt.
No Quentin Grimes (foot) this evening. No matter. The Knicks should roll through this one—and next Wednesday’s rematch in Indy, too. My prediction for the Friday night affair: Knicks by fifty.
The Mecca. Friday. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m. Viva Knicks!