The Knicks and Nets play again for a rematch of the two New York clubs. It has been a trying time for the ‘Bockers while Brooklyn is without Kyrie Irving.
The New York Knicks (7-24) are back in action after having Christmas off, staying in New York to visit the rival Brooklyn Nets (16-13) at the Barclays Center. Mike Miller’s Knicks have dropped three straight games and have started to revert back to the squad we saw under David Fizdale: blowout losses to good teams and lackluster efforts in winnable games. They will attempt to turn things around against their borough rivals, who will be without Kyrie Irving once again.
This season is rapidly becoming a lost cause (if it isn’t already), but that is not to say the team should just pack it in. A nice win tonight, and who knows—maybe a new tone is set for 2020.
Here is what to look out for tonight.
It’s no coincidence the Knicks’ best performance of the season also included the best rotation of the season. Was the 143-point explosion against the Hawks a perfect storm of hot shooting against a bad team, or was it the first time the rotation was properly executed?
In that game every available player logged minutes; this should be an everyday thing. The Knicks do not possess any great individual players who can win a game on their own. Their best chance to dominate is by forming a collective fist to take down teams. Miller would be wise to try this out tonight and for the rest of the season.
Kyrie Irving is not the only one missing tonight’s game. Dennis Smith Jr. (strained left oblique), Wayne Ellington (sore left Achilles), and Reggie Bullock (cervical disc herniation) are also out, and Marcus Morris (sore left Achilles) could join them on the sidelines.
Injury Report for tonight’s game at Brooklyn: Probable – Robinson (illness); Questionable – Morris Sr (sore left Achilles); Doubtful – Ellington (sore left Achilles); Out – Bullock (cervical disc herniation) and Smith Jr. (strained left oblique).— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) December 26, 2019
If Morris is unable to go again, the onus will be on Julius Randle and R.J. Barrett to once again shoulder the scoring load, for which Morris is the top option when healthy.
Iso Zo Sighting
Spencer Dinwiddie has been able to step up during Kyrie’s absence; who will be the one to step up if Morris is out? Randle and Barrett are the obvious contenders, but what about Allonzo Trier?
Zo is the perfect scoring mercenary for games in which the Knicks need points. Trier was huge in the first game against the Nets, pouring in 22 points in 23 minutes. In their last game he scored 11 points in 20 minutes.
Trier may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he can do something a lot of this roster cannot: score.
Spotlight: Mitchell Robinson
Given how bad things have gone, why not lean into developing your most talented player? Mitchell Robinson started the last game against the Wizards, but only logged 23 minutes. He finished with five fouls, but also tallied 13 rebounds, six points and six blocks. Clearly Robinson is extremely talented, he just needs to re-focus on the foul issues.
He had done well with regard to fouling prior to the Wizards game, although it came at the cost of his aggressiveness. The key for Robinson is to quickly process which shots are worth risking a foul call on, and which he can let slide. Offensively, it would be nice to see him put that good jumper we have seen in practice to use.
A decent jumper unlocks a whole new level for the sophomore center. He is shooting 64.9% from the line, but he does have a nice shooting touch, so confidence could be the only thing holding him back. His matchup tonight will be against a similarly talented center in Jarrett Allen, who has firsthand experience extending offense, and Mitch’s former mentor DeAndre Jordan. Both Jordan and Allen are strong shot blockers; if Robinson can lure them out of the paint, Randle and Barrett will have a better chance to finish at the rim.