After consecutive losses to two top Eastern Conference teams (Bucks, Celtics), the Knicks return home for one night before starting a five-game road trip in Utah. That doesn’t sound tough enough for ya? How about including a back-to-back with the Suns and Clippers? Yeahhh, the Knicks get to prove their mettle with the league’s toughest December schedule. Will they win the week or at least break even?
Knicks vs. Raptors, Monday, Dec. 11, 7:30 PM
New York played the Toronto Raptors on December 1, and their 119-106 victory was their third consecutive win. Jalen Brunson scored 22 points, while Josh Hart chipped in 15 third-quarter points to secure glory. Julius Randle narrowly missed a triple-double with 20 points, 10 boards, and nine dimes. Toronto’s main men Scottie Barnes (29 points) and Pascal Siakam (21 points) could not overcome a Knicks team that played great team basketball and scored a season-high 30 assists.
Since falling to the Knicks, the Raptors have lost to Miami and Charlotte. Could more losses make O.G. Anunoby more available for a trade? Insert contemplative emoji here.
Knicks at Jazz, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 9:00 PM
Wednesday’s game will be the first of two between the clubs this season, and the start of a five-game road trip for New York.
Last year, the Utah Jazz finished with a 37-45 record. Will Hardy’s club didn’t play much defense but could be counted on to score points. This season, less so. In the current campaign, the Jazz rank in the bottom five for both offense and defense and are off to a 7-15 start
Lauri Markkanen leads the Jazz with almost 24 points and 8.7 boards per game. Both Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton have higher usage rates, but both average less than 15 points. Sophomore center Walker Kessler is netting 8.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks while taking 89% of his shots within 10 feet from the iron.
Pencil a win for the ‘Bockers.
Knicks at Suns, Friday, Dec. 15, 10:00 PM
New York has lost nine of their last ten games against the Phoenix Suns. The most recent was a 116-113 loss around Thanksgiving, when the Knicks lost the first quarter 34-22 and never recovered. In the game, Phoenix’s Eric Gordon made six of nine three-point attempts, and Devin Booker led the procession with 28 points and 11 assists.
For the Knicks, Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle combined for 63 points, while the other three starters scored 15 total. With Donte DiVincenzo having replaced Quentin Grimes as the starting shooter, could a different outcome be in the cards? Magic 8-Ball is dubious. . . .
Knicks at Clippers, Saturday, Dec. 16, 10:30 PM
The Los Angeles Clippers visited Madison Square Garden in early November and suffered a 14-point defeat. The big hype around the game was that James Harden made his debut with the Clips. On Saturday, the Knicks face them again, but this time in California and on the heels of playing Phoenix the previous night. What a rotten schedule.
Harden, Paul George, and the L.A. bunch have won three straight as of this writing, including a game against the Denver Nuggets. Expect New York to be fatigued from travel and a shootout in Phoenix 24 hours earlier. A victory would be a happy surprise.