On Tuesday night, the Knicks will head to Portland to take on the third-seeded Portland Trail Blazers in a matchup of two polar-opposite NBA squads.
Losers of their last four games and nine of the last 10, the free falling New York Knicks (24–40) head to Portland tonight to take on the streaking Trail Blazers (38–26), who have won seven consecutive games.
While the Knicks are coming off a comeback bid that fell just short against the lowly Kings of Sacramento, the Blazers are coming off a successful comeback against the Lakers yesterday in which Damian Lillard got hot from behind the arc and dropped 19 points in the fourth quarter.
Some things to watch for in this late Tuesday night showdown:
• Jeff Hornacek has been experimenting with his guard rotations quite a bit since starting to embrace the youth-first strategy. Emmanuel Mudiay remains the starting point guard, and has contributed 10 points and seven assists on 34.6 percent shooting from the field since his appointment. He has received a hair under 25 minutes per game over this stretch compared to Trey Burke’s 25.4 and Ntilikina’s flat 25 off the bench. The three guards are neck and neck in terms of playing time, which will make it interesting to see if Hornacek starts to tilt the scales towards playing Trey Burke more than the other two guards given his recent outburst of excellent play.
• Ntilikina has been playing a lot of minutes at the 2 since, given the roster makeup, Hornacek has the flexibility of having two other guards who can penetrate into the paint and create some offense. His move to the shooting guard spot will let him develop his skills as a secondary playmaker, giving room for him to attack off the catch rather than initiate the offense, a role that hasn’t suited him perfectly thus far. Ntilikina also shoots an almost league-average 36.1 percent clip from behind the line on catch-and-shoot opportunities, which is much better than his season average 32.9 percent mark from deep. He and Trey Burke sharing a backcourt has seen some success in limited minutes this season:
Here are the Knicks top lineups (by possessions played) without Porzingis on the floor (and w/o McDermott). You can see Mudiay with the starters, Frank as the lone PG, and when Burke + Frank play together
Note: The average NBA game has 100-120 possessions pic.twitter.com/ouJ4UHn7p1
— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) March 6, 2018
• Michael Beasley has seen his numbers tail off significantly since Kristaps Porzingis went down. Though his numbers were expected to trend up given how he had performed when Porzingis would miss a game with a nagging injury, Beasley has fallen in both efficiency and total production. Will he finally start to pick it up tonight?
• Hornacek chewed out the team after their loss to the Kings, implying that his guys weren’t trying hard enough. Kyle O’Quinn certainly gave it his all in Sacramento – maybe our baby Knicks should take his lead.
Hornacek talked after the game about the Knicks not tying hard enough. Maybe he should show the team some film of @Kyle_OQuinn, who did a little bit of everything last night pic.twitter.com/x3r4ZLc6Wt
— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) March 5, 2018
Tip-off is set for 10 p.m. EST. Late night Knicks crowd assemble!