The New York Knicks (21-15) will play basketball inside the Garden on Tuesday against the Portland Trail Blazers (10-25) for the first time this season as their visitors will cross the bridge coming off an overtime victory against the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, 134-127.
The Blazers, led by World Champion Chauncey Billups have struggled mightily of late to put the ball in the basket. Sunday’s victory marked the first time since 2023 (legit) that they crossed the 103-point barrier, and also earned the inhabitants of the PDX their first win of the 2024 calendar year.
One of the most discussed Knickerbockers after Monday’s practice at the Tarrytown training facilities was backup guard Quentin Grimes, who has finally found his proper place within Tom Thibodeau’s rotation after demanding some changes back in early December.
“[Grimes] has been playing well,” Jalen Brunson said of his teammate. “When you see the ball go in the hoop it builds your confidence, and so the things he’s been able to do, it’s him. He’s back to who he is, and I expect nothing less—he works really hard.”
Grimey is scoring in double figures this year in the four-game winning streak put together by the Knicks following the OG trade that opened the doors for him to take on a bulkier load of offensive touches and opportunities with both RJ and IQ off to Canada. He’s 10-of-22 from distance in the past four games and shooting better from 3-point range (45.5%) than overall (45.2%) in that stint. Jeez!
Thibs also discussed New Grimes after practice, agreeing with JB that QG “is playing very well,” adding, “We need everyone playing well.”
Said Thibs: “We want to get the best out of everybody, and so it just seems to have worked out better this way. We have a lot of confidence in him and we’re comfortable with him playing with the first unit and the second, as we are with Donte playing with both units and Josh [Hart] does it extremely well (too) so that versatility I think is important for us.”
Brunson also discussed Deuce’s new role in the team as the primary backup at the point with IQ out of town.
“I’ve said this a couple of times over the past couple of games: he’s been ready for his opportunity, whenever his number’s been called,” Brunson said of McBride.
“He comes in every day and works on his game, does his routine, does all that stuff as if he’s going to play. So he’s been ready, and what I’ve seen from him is that his routine hasn’t changed. He’s been the same, and he’s doing what he has to do to get himself ready,” said Brunson. “We love to see it.”
Thibodeau also discussed Deuce, saying that most of his improvement/growth of late has to do with “how he works,” adding that this development is nothing new or shocking to the coach. “[Deuce] showed us last year whenever he was called upon, he played very well. Just the way he stayed ready this year. He wasn’t in the rotation but that didn’t change his approach. It didn’t change his attitude. We’re very confident when he was put in there that he would play well.”
The Blazers are expected to be without starting center Deandre Ayton (h/t Jeremy Brener of the Blazers Edge), although he could make a comeback in time for tonight’s matchup. Portland tagged him with a “doubtful” designation on Monday’s injury report while labeling both Matisse Thybulle and Jabari Walker as “questionable” to play against the Knicks. Neither of the latter two played against the Nets on Sunday.
The Knicks keep strengthening their undefeated streak in the OG Era by demolishing the Malcolm Brogdon Blazers before discussing the terms of a trade for The President after the game in a very pleasant meal in L’Industrie at 104 Christopher Street, NYC. Thibs pays the bill.
Knicks win 119-105. Whether the trade ends up happening or not, I don’t have a way to know.
Who: New York Knicks vs. Portland Trail Blazers
When: 7:30 pm EST, Tuesday, January 9, 2024
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York.