The Knicks and Suns have a very similar record on the season. New York comes into tonight’s contest at 13-10, and Phoenix enters the game with a 13-11 record, and both of these teams are just 5-5 in their last 10 games. That being said, the vibes and outlook of the two teams and fanbases feels very different.
The Suns and their fans are energized and excited after seeing their headlining big three take on the court together for the first time this season just two days ago. The Suns lost that game to the Brooklyn Nets, 116-112, but there’s belief that with the team’s best three players finally healthy at the same time, they have a shot at getting on a roll and climbing the standings in the coming weeks.
The same cannot be said about the Knicks and their faithful, unfortunately. New York is coming off what may have been the worst and most frustrating loss of the season, one that saw Jalen Brunson have one of his worst games as a Knick, RJ Barrett go 3-of-16 from the field, Josh Hart and Quentin Grimes combine for just two points in 47 minutes, and Tom Thibodeau inexplicably limit Immanuel Quickley’s playing time to just 18 minutes.
The team, unlike Phoenix, just lost one of, if not, the most important players on the team for the foreseeable future in Mitchell Robinson last weekend, and the next few weeks look a lot more bleak than they do promising due to the team’s current level of play and the tough schedule ahead.
And if all of this didn’t sound bad enough, just remember that these Suns walked into the Garden and defeated the Knicks on the road, with Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal out. Both are slated to suit up tonight.
- Devin Booker G
- Bradley Beal G
- Kevin Durant F
- Chimezie Metu F
- Jusuf Nurkic C
New York Knicks
- Jalen Brunson G
- Donte DiVincenzo G
- RJ Barrett F
- Julius Randle F
- Jericho Sims C
As hopeless as it may seem, there is a chance the Knicks win this game. New York is currently 8-6 on the road, and they’ll be playing a Suns team that just lost to the Nets, who, like the Knicks, are 13-10. Phoenix is also still in the midst of their gelling phase and while their big three all looked very good against the Nets, the hope is that they have yet to find a way to maximize each other’s talents and that the Knicks can benefit a bit from that.
Another area the Knicks could potentially look to exploit, is the Suns second unit, which has, outside of Eric Gordon and Grayson Allen when they come off the bench, looked very weak. Now, it’s not like the Knicks’ second unit has been elite, but Isaiah Hartenstein remains a strong contender for best backup center in the league, and the trio of Josh Hart, Immanuel Quickley, and Quentin Grimes have been solid for the most part as well. If they can win the bench battle, get another great Randle game, have Barrett bounce back, and see Brunson return to form, they can give themselves a shot.
But that just seems like too many “ifs.” Barrett has been one of the least efficient volume shooters in the league over the last few weeks, Brunson hasn’t quite looked right since tweaking his ankle last week, and I just can’t see the Knicks’ defense, which has looked absolutely horrendous over the last couple of weeks, stopping an offense lead by Durant and Booker. I think that the Knicks can definitely win the bench minutes and keep the game somewhat close with Randle’s play, but that they ultimately end up running out of gas and fail to keep up with Phoenix’s offense. Knicks lose 120-110.
Who: New York Knicks at Phoenix Suns
When: 10:00 pm EST, Friday, Dec. 15
Where: Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, NYC
Watch: MSG Network, Arizona’s Family 3TV, ESPN