After a short stint at MSG, New York will now head out towards the Pacific, starting with a stop in Memphis against the Grizzlies.
In what is expected to be a troublesome road trip that will see the Knicks stack up against the Grizzlies, Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns, the Knicks will need to move past their road woes to try and salvage their dwindling playoff hopes.
The Knicks were able to take care of business against the Nets on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a game in which Tim Hardaway Jr. rested, Frank Ntilikina had his best game of the season, and Kristaps Porzingis broke out of a cold shooting streak. Utilizing that win, the Knicks must continue to garner momentum as they visit the cellar dwelling Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
The Grizzlies, currently proving to be a shell of their former selves, are 14-28 this season, which is good for 14th in the Western Conference. Due to Mike Conley suffering from a nagging Achilles that has led him to suit up for just 12 games this season, Tyreke Evans and Marc Gasol have been the only bright spots for a thin Memphis team.
Most recently, though, the Grizzlies have been able to regain some momentum, going 5-5 in their last 10 games, which included a standout win against the Los Angeles Clippers at home.
Despite a recent surge of sorts, the Grizzlies are a good opponent for the Knicks to get their road trip started with, allowing for them to ease into the West Coast swing and potentially get a win before facing a gritty Jazz team on Friday.
What to watch for:
- Kristaps Porzingis’ shot: Since Tim Hardaway Jr. went down earlier this season, Porzingis has struggled with his shooting efficiency while being the go-to option when on the floor. Against the Nets, Porzingis found his groove with Jeff Hornacek utilizing him differently in the rotation. Porzingis finished the game with 26 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field.
- Tim Hardaway Jr.’s minutes: Since his return to action after a long stint on the sidelines due to a stress injury, Hardaway Jr. played 25 minutes against the Minnesota Timberwolves and then 33 minutes against the Pelicans before resting against the Nets. With a tiresome schedule that sees the Knicks play six games in nine days, keep an eye on if we see a minutes restriction at times for the shooting guard as he continues to regain full fitness.
- Frank Ntilikina’s improvement: When Trey Burke signed his contract for the second half of the season, it was anticipated that both Jarrett Jack and Ntilikina would see a minutes reduction to accompany Burke, but Ntilikina’s performance against Brooklyn proved he might be deserving of more playing time. Showing glimpses for much of the season of the talent he possesses, Ntilikina was able to show off his full capabilities in a 10 point (3-6 shooting), 10 assist, seven rebound, two block and one steal performance. Whether or not he will be able to replicate this performance regularly is unclear, but this road trip could be a test for his talents coming up against Ricky Rubio, Lonzo Ball, Stephen Curry, and Jamal Murray.
- Center matchup: The most interesting matchup on display in this game will be Enes Kanter versus Marc Gasol. The two European big men have both had solid seasons, with Kanter averaging a double-double and Gasol proving to be a prolific scorer for yet another season. With the Knicks likely generating scoring out of Porzingis and Kanter in the frontcourt, it will be interesting to see how Gasol defends the two options with the Knicks also being tasked with limiting his production. Gasol is questionable tonight with an illness, but if he manages to play, keep your eyes peeled.
The Knicks and the Grizzlies will tip off at 8 p.m. EST.