A busy week awaits the Knickerbockers. Five games are on the slate, including a four-game road trip along the coast and another NBA Cupper.
Knicks vs Hornets, Sunday, November 12, 12 pm EST, MSG TV
The Charlotte Hornets certainly have a capable offense. Terry Rozier and LaMelo Ball are the team leaders for points, with P.J. Washington and Gordon Hayward close behind. Charlotte is a fast-paced team—third in the NBA for speed—and rank ninth in the league for points per game. Offense, not a problem.
Their defense is different. Charlotte rates 27th in the league in that regard. Further dampening their hopes for a Saturday win, Rozier is nursing a strained groin and might sit. Steve Clifford’s crew can’t catch a break.
Matinee games always make me nervous. The Knicks were 3-7 in games that started before 5pm last season. Denying these gnats their usual 116 points per outing will be a good test for Tom Thibodeau’s team, although Charlotte will be hard-pressed to recover Rozier’s 20+ points if he’s a scratch.
A victory would give the Knicks a three-game win streak and put them over .500 for the first time. But matinees, man….
Knicks at Celtics, Monday, November 13, 7:30 pm EST, NBA TV
The Knicks lost a scrappy contest against the Boston Celtics on opening night at Madison Square Garden. Since then, the Celtics have continued to have a successful early season, as expected, and sit atop the NBA.com power rankings. After battling a soft defensive team on Sunday, on Monday the Knicks will face one of the league’s top clamp-down crews. Just great.
Take heart, the Celtics dropped two games this past week, one to Minnesota and another to Philadelphia. Despite those two losses, the frontcourt of Jayson Tatum (28.4 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 3.6 ASG) and Kristaps Porziņģis (21 PPG, 6.7 RPG) has been as successful as Joe Mazzulla could have hoped. The team ranks third in points per game and sixth for offensive rating.
The Knicks are 189-301 versus the Celtics all-time. Boston will face the Raptors on Saturday in a game they should win, then enjoy a day off. Contrast that to this: on Monday, New York will play the second of a back-to-back, at TD Garden, against a top team in the East. They’ll be underdogs, justifiably so, but these Knickerbockers could surprise you. A win would be a powerful statement to the league, and rounding the record to 190 sure sounds nice.
Knicks at Hawks, Wednesday, November 15, 7:30 pm EST, MSG TV
The Knicks edged out the Atlanta Hawks in their second game of the season, 126-120. In that affair, both teams made a little under half their attempts from the floor, but New York bested Atlanta beyond the arc, 46% to 38%.
In games they have won this season, New York has averaged an effective field goal percentage of 55%. In losing efforts, their EFG was 43%. As good as the Knicks’ defense often is, it can’t carry them to victory alone.
Meanwhile, these Atlanta fowl can put up a ton of points, and they sit second in the league for points per game with 121.8. If an off-night Knicks team tries to trade buckets with these birds, an ugly outcome could result.
Knicks at Wizards, NBA Cup, Friday, November 17, 7:00 pm EST, MSG TV
Bring out the funky court, it’s another in-season tournament game!
In their final game of the preseason, the Knicks were blown out by Jordan Poole and the Washington Wizards. Poole had 41 points and five rebounds in that contest and played a style of defense known as matador.
Like speed? Wes Unseld’s Zards are currently the Ferrari of the NBA, leading the league in pace. For comparison, the Knicks are a Honda Civic-ish, 28th-ranked team. Lo, the eye test said that, in their last two games before Sunday, the Knicks did search for outlet passes and played faster more often. They seem intent on picking up the pace, and Washington will gladly gallop with them.
The Wiz are not inept at putting points on the board—they’re fifth at that. They are also dead last in surrendered points. That preseason victory will be proven an anomaly when the Knicks win this, their second NBA Cup game of the season.
Knicks at Charlotte Hornets, Saturday, November 18, 6:00 pm EST, MSG TV
Saturday, the Knicks will face Charlotte to bookend their week and complete their second back-to-back of the week.
This could be a trap game, with health possibly becoming an issue. If Julius Randle and RJ Barrett average 30+ minutes per game, in five tilts over seven days—plus travel—their respective ailments, sore ankle and knee, could very well be exacerbated. The rest of the squad should be able to dispatch Charlotte with or without them, but the physical toll of this packed schedule is worth considering. The need for a reserve power forward might reveal itself more urgently by the end of this daunting week. Stay ready, Jericho!
As for P&T, we’ll cover all the aforementioned action, plus publish the next installment of Andrew’s interview with legendary NYC hooper, Kenny Anderson, and might even dust off a classic or two from the archives. Don’t forget to FanPost. And go Knicks!