clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Game Preview: Knicks at Grizzlies, January 13, 2024

Without Ja Morant, Marcus Smart, and Derrick Rose, the shorthanded Grizz will be lacking in the backcourt.

NBA: New York Knicks at Memphis Grizzlies Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks (22-16) are still smarting from a failed comeback in Dallas. They had closed the differential to one point in clutch time but couldn’t recover from spotting the Mavs 20 points. The loss broke a five-game win streak, and ended OG Anunoby’s perfect run as a Knickerbocker. Had to happen sometime.

Tonight they will face the underwhelming, underperforming Memphis Grizzlies (14-24). Yesterday, the Grizz lost to the Los Angeles Clippers, so expect some fatigue on their part. To make matters worse, they’re also short-handed.

Ja Morant missed 30 games while suspended, returned long enough to raise hope for a salvaged season, and then suffered a season-ending injury; Marcus Smart busted his finger this week and will miss the next few weeks; and Derrick Rose is inactive, too. Look for Vince Williams, Jr. and Jacob Gilyard to split the point guard minutes. Gilyard has appeared in 20 contests this year, averaging about four points and three assists in 15.6 minutes per outing. He doesn’t take many triples (2.6 per game) but he does shoot 44% from downtown. Williams has averaged 5.9 PPG in 22 MPG over 28 contests. Jalen Brunson should record a double-double for points and assists tonight.

Shooting Guard Luke Kennard has averaged 8.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in only 14 games this season. He missed 23 games with a bone bruise in his knee. Kennard always looks so gosh darn happy to be here, but under that goofy demeanor hides a sharpshooter. At 6’5”, 206 lb, he and Donte DiVincenzo match-up pretty evenly (DiVo actually has a hair’s length advantage on wingspan).

Small Forward Desmond Bane rates in the 98 percentile for shot quality, per CraftedNBA.com, and has a player efficiency rating of 19. With Morant and JJJ (see below), he forms a big three with playoff aspirations, if only Morant’s off-court troubles and on-court injuries hadn’t derailed the season. The 25-year-old Bane is scoring a career-high 24.7 point per game, but with the higher volume of shots, his accuracy has flagged somewhat–38% from deep on 8.7 attempts per game–and he was certainly cold in his last game against New York, making only three of 13 from downtown. Memphis has yet to see if his broad shoulders are wide enough to carry the team.

As a pro, Bane has faced OG Anunoby only once. In that December 2022 game, he logged 16 points, five rebounds, and four assists, while OG scored 16 points, three rebounds, and three assists. This will be a fun matchup to follow.

Power forward / center Jaren Jackson Jr. (6’10”, 242 lb) has averaged career-highs of 21.3 points and 31.6 minutes per game. His 7’5.25” wingspan and athleticism make him an elite rim-defender. Twice-picked for All-Defensive team, JJJ led the league in blocks the past two seasons and had last season’s best defensive rating per Basketball-Reference.com. He grabs 5.8 rebounds and blocks 1.8 shots per game. He is unashamed to air out the long ball about five times per game and makes 35% of ‘em.

The Grizzlies waived center Bismack Biyombo on Thursday, and Xavier Tillman, Sr. is slotted in that spot on the ESPN depth chart. Tillman has averaged 5.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and about 19 minutes in his 25 appearances this year.

Santi Aldama is dealing with a knee issue and may not be available for Memphis tonight. The hits keep coming for the Grizz!

Prediction

The Dallas loss was humbling. The five previous games had shown what the Knicks can do when firing on all cylinders. Against the Mavs, we saw what happens when the shots don’t fall and the defense is unfocused. We knew that missing Luka would be a handicap and predicted a win. Kyrie Irving and Tim Hardaway, Jr. had other ideas.

Nevertheless, this is the rebound game. This one starts a new win streak. The Grizzlies’ are not without talent–JJJ and Bane are likely to have impressive games–but the Knicks have more talent overall and a deeper bench. Hubris be damned, Knicks by +10.

Game Details

Who: New York Knicks at Memphis Grizzlies

When: 8:00 pm EST, Saturday, January 13, 2024

Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN

Watch: MSG

Follow: @ptknicksblog