The last game played of the 2017-18 season played at MSG sees the Knicks welcome LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
We have nearly arrived at the finish line. The second half of the season has once again tried our collective patience, but we made it. With 80 games in the books and two more to cap off the season, the Knicks will play a home and home with King LeBron and his Cavaliers. Thankfully, the Cavs have playoff seeding to worry about, so they should take care of business tonight at MSG.
The message for the Knicks remains unchanged. Give the young guys some minutes as they audition for next season’s roster. For the older Knicks, this could be a farewell of sorts. Storylines are often hard to grab in meaningless games such as this, but damn it if I won’t try. Cue up the montage music and let’s run through what to look out for in the MSG finale.
Why did some poor fools spend money on this waste of space?
It’s true. There’s a billboard… pic.twitter.com/3bgJiPhHoW
— Reid Goldsmith (@reidgoldsmith) April 6, 2018
I have some tough news for the delusional New Yorkers that still talk themselves into LeBron to NYC: he’s not coming. James Dolan will sell the Knicks before LeBron is donning a Knicks jersey so please drop it.
For what it’s worth, LeBron was flattered by the billboard. He thought it was cool that so many teams want his services at his age. I’ll decode the message for you: what he is really saying is there will be a cold day in hell before I join the New York Knicks, but I appreciate you stroking my ego.
Big Paws on a Pup
Let’s keep the LeBron theme going. In addition for having kind words for the billboard, LeBron actually had complimentary words for our rook, Frank Ntilikina. We remember what happened last time these two shared the floor in New York. Frankie won his way into the hearts of New Yorkers.
LeBron spoke with reporters earlier and complimented Frank on his defense (shocker) as well as his knowledge of the game:
“I think he knows how to play the game. That’s the best thing, first of all. Very cerebral basketball player. I think, defensively, he’s more advanced than offensively. But I think offensively, he’s gotten better as he’s gotten more opportunity and played more games…. I think every game, more and more, he gets the opportunity to play, more and more, he gets comfortable with the NBA game, his offensive game is getting better. Defensively he’s been good since he probably stepped on a basketball floor defensively so, it’s good for him.”
The praise from the vets have come in all season. Some armchair GMs may still not see the potential that lies in Frank but it’s nice to see his elder statesmen see it. It will be a big summer for him, but for tonight, Frank will continue to get comfortable as a starter.
This could be the last game we see Kyle O’Quinn, Courtney Lee, and Enes Kanter as members of the team. In O’Quinn’s case, he has severely outplayed the paltry contract he signed a couple years back. He has been one of the few consistent bright spots over the years and is someone I would not mind bringing back at the proper price.
As for Lee and Kanter, I wish them the best, but their timeline does not match up with the team’s trajectory. Kanter has grown on the fanbase more than I expected, and for good reason. When he’s with you, he’s with you. The problem is he’s reaching his best seasons and wants to compete. He has voiced that frustration at points during the tank. Lee has been more of a company guy, but you have to assume he wants to play meaningful basketball to close out his career. If this is their final game in front of the MSG faithful, I hope they get a proper farewell from the crowd.
Matchup of the Night: Kevin Love vs. Enes Kanter
Had this game meant something, the matchups would be a little more intriguing. I believe the Knicks actually have the advantage in the backcourt with Trey Burke and Frankie. On the wing, LeBron has no equal any night, but a little iso sparring with Michael Beasley could make this game mildly entertaining.
The matchup that does seem kind of even, at least on offense, is at center. Styles make fights and tonight you get Kevin Love’s finesse game vs. Kanter’s brute strength. These last two games give Kanter an opportunity to showcase for teams that could be interested in him next season. If his wish is to jump to a contender again, how he tangles with Love will be a good barometer of his value.
Tim Hardaway Jr. remains out for the Knicks. Tip at 7:30 P.M. from MSG.