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Preview of the Knicks’ upcoming week, Dec. 24-30.

Check it out, Scrooges: Christmas coal incoming and a chance to go 0-4 this week.

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New York Knicks v Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images

The schedule has four games this week, and each one promises to be a challenge. After a Christmas Day affair against the Bucks (sigh), the Knicks jet off to Oklahoma and then Florida for battles with two young upstarts, and finally enjoy a reunion of sorts in the Hoosier state. With another back-to-back, this could be a brutal stretch.

Knicks vs Bucks, 12:00 PM, Monday, December 25, 2023

Ooof, you saw the last three match-ups between these two clubs. Here comes the fourth, on Christmas Day, no less. Bah, humbug.

On Saturday, the Milwaukee Bucks ruined our afternoon and defeated the Knicks 130-111. Bobby Portis, Malik Beasley, and Khris Middleton brought their A-game, delivering strong performances, while Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard had somewhat subdued outings (yes, combining for 47 points is “subdued” for them).

Jalen Brunson scored 36 points and added seven assists in another impressive display against the Bucks but received little support. Isaiah Hartenstein availed himself admirably (13 boards, 12 points), but Julius Randle’s stats (26 points / eight boards) were mostly illusory, and RJ Barrett padded his way to 13 baloneys.

The second quarter was a seesaw battle, but the Bucks held a 64-54 lead at halftime, maintained control in the third quarter, and entered the final frame ahead, 100-87. An 11-0 run put the game to bed early. Perhaps the most glaring stat was the Bucks’ +14 rebounding advantage, with Bobby Portis leading the charge with 11 boards (to go with his 23 points).

The game’s outcome was never in doubt, and, unfortunately, neither is the outcome of the Christmas game, either.

Knicks at Thunder, 8:00 PM, Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Zach Harper at The Athletic has moved the Oklahoma City Thunder up to the “Contender” tier for good reason. All that slow growth in the Sooner state is paying off. Led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (averaging 30.8 PPG, 6.3 APG, 5.7 RPG, and 2.8 SPG), the Thunder play fast and competently on both ends of the floor and have achieved a record of 18-9. Third in the West! The Thunder!

As of this writing, they rank sixth in the league for offense and defense, and third for steals and margin of victory. Indeed, they hoist a modest amount of three-pointers (about 33 per game) but are fourth-best at making them. Hence, expect that Julius Randle will be stripped while spinning, and the Knicks will scramble to match points with these youngsters.

Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren both contribute 17 points per game for the club, with the latter adding eight boards and almost three blocks per game.

The Thunder have two perceived weaknesses. The first is their size deficiency, and Julius should be able to muscle his way to 30 points in the paint. The second is inexperience: being the league’s second-youngest team (24.12 years), naysayers may wonder if these kids can stay focused through a deep postseason run.

Give them the benefit of the doubt. Mark Daigneault seems to be a steady coach, SGA is a vet at this point and seems to have leadership qualities, and some of these guys have already been in the spotlight for years (certainly Holmgren got a lot of attention from P&T, and the Knicks didn’t have a prayer of landing him). These guys will do fine–just not on Wednesday, we hope.

Knicks at Magic, 7:00 PM, Friday, December 29, 2023

The Orlando Magic still need a lead guard who can shoot, but otherwise they’re on a roll. As of this writing, the Fighting Disneys (the NBA’s fifth-youngest) boast a 17-11 record. Fourth in the East! The Magic!

Led by sophomore Paolo Banchero (21.2 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 4.5 APG), the Magic rank 19th in the league for offense but third for defense (and fourth in steals). They generate a lot of fouls, taking the NBA’s second-most free-throw attempts (Banchero takes almost seven per game).

The Knicks should chase Franz Wagner to the three point arc as often as possible. He’s one of the Magic’s most productive—20.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 3.9 APG—but he makes only a quarter of this long-range attempts. And keep an eye on Jalen Suggs, who is finally on the up-and-up, making some real strides (12.4 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 2.5 APG).

Orlando is a bad three-point shooting team, rating 29th in the league, so New York should try to create distance on the scoreboard with an early rain of threes. According to, the Magic surrender the most rebounds per game, so the Knicks should fill their bellies there. Win it from the air and on the glass, Knickerbockers!

The Magic lacks a steady hand at lead guard, and you can bet they’ll offer Immanuel Quickley a boat festooned with Benjamins next summer. A team with I.Q.’s talent running the point, paired with Banchero and Wagner, could make a run at the throne. What a terrible outcome that would be: to lose Quickley while also strengthening a conference rival. Is it time for us to start a petition to keep I.Q.?

As for Friday’s game: New York should, win but hot, steamy humble pie will be on the menu if they take the Magic for granted.

Knicks at Pacers, 7:00 PM, Saturday, December 30, 2023

Remember that time you thought the league hated the Knicks? Well, whoever made this December schedule does, at least. After a rock fight with a tough Orlando club on Friday, the Knicks have to jump on a plane for a Saturday game against the Indiana Pacers.

Led by Tyrese Haliburton (24.3 PPG, 12.1 APG, 3.8 RPG, and 41% 3P), the Pacers are 14-14, and eighth in the East as of this writing. I am obliged to report that Obi Toppin has averaged 12.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 29 games this season and is shooting 38% on 3.6 attempts. If those stats cause you to need emotional or mental help, please dial 911.

These Pacers are amazing on offense (second-best!) and turrrrible on defense (second-worst!). They lead the league in points (126.5) and blocks (6.5—watch your head, RJ) per game, and the the seventh-best three-point shooters. Key to victory? The three-ball, again. They are the worst in defending at the perimeter, so the Knicks should spend the game downtown, where everything’s waiting for youuuu.

Fun fact: I once worked for a company whose owner claimed to have dated Petula Clarke as a teenager (I dunno how old he was at the time). You win a no-prize if you know of her. As for the Knicks: no prizes will come easy this week. I shudder at the thought of the ruptures and hemorrhages that will occur on our comments board if Obi goes off for 30 and caps it with a windmill dunk.

Merry Christmas if you celebrate, season’s greetings if you don’t, and go Knicks.