After stumbling against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, New York looks to begin a new winning streak at home.
Based on the game in Orlando a few nights ago, and by simple common sense, we know that the Knicks minus Kristaps Porzingis this season will be bad. How about with him? How good can they be with their star in the lineup? We’ve had a taste of the good and the bad, so we really aren’t sure quite yet. Tonight, the Knicks begin a three-game homestand against Sacramento, Cleveland, and Utah, before heading up north to face Toronto and then coming back home for the Clippers. This stretch could give us a good gauge of the temperature of this team, should KP remain healthy.
All signs indicate towards Porzingis being back tonight, which is an obvious blessing. The team held firm for most of the game Wednesday, but slowly began to unravel in the second half without their star. With KP back in the fold, tonight represents a great opportunity for the Knicks to lock down a win against a struggling Sacramento squad. A few thoughts:
- Despite Sacramento’s 3-8 record, two of their wins have come in their last two contests, one over Oklahoma City and one over Philadelphia. De’Aaron Fox, the apple of many Knicks fans eyes prior to the draft, knocked down a jumper in the waning moments on Thursday to propel the Kings to victory. He’ll certainly be a guy to watch tonight, as his athleticism and explosive speed are always a problem. With fans around New York sipping the Frank Ntilikina Kool-Aid lately, watching Fox won’t be an act of yearning, but rather one of admiration. The draft is still fresh in these guy’s minds, so you wonder if they get up a little bit for these type of matchups. Frankie Smokes will hope to continue to impress, coming off of a career-high nine assists on Wednesday.
- It pains me to say this, with his antics and general hilarious spaciness, but the Michael Beasley experiment should end. The dude looks lost on the floor nearly the entire time he’s playing, and with Doug McDermott looking like a solid rotation cog, there is truly no reason for those backup wing minutes to go to anyone but Dougie and Lance Thomas.
- The Knicks were a big, impressively efficient turnover machine on Wednesday, committing 23 turnovers in the losing effort. Not having Porzingis to soak up possessions certainly hurt them, but they’ve also had two other games this year in which they turned the ball over 22 times or more. Jeff Hornacek will need to tighten up the screws on that end, considering that the Kings force turnovers on 16.5 percent of opponent possessions, the fifth-highest mark in the league.
- Damyean Dotson and Ron Baker were sent down to the Westchester Knicks and played in their game against the Grand Rapids Drive yesterday, chipping in 22 points combined. Both will be back in New York tonight. Two-way contract recipient Isaiah Hicks hung a 35 spot on the Drive, adding 10 boards. It’s always nice to see the two-way guys perform well, in case of a severe emergency. Oh, and because we should all also be Westchester Knicks fans. Yeah, Knicks!
- Sacramento have been less than average on both ends this year, but they have been leanest on offense. They’re 20th in defensive rating, but sit at a lowly 29th in offensive rating. With the loss of DeMarcus Cousins at the trade deadline last year, the Kings are devoid of any true offensive weapon. Fox has gotten off to a nice start, but he can’t shoot worth a damn. Zach Randolph is their leading scorer at 13.6 points per game (which is the lowest team-high figure in the league), and he is old and inefficient. Buddy Hield has not been as good after his eye-opening close to the season last year. What a strange roster the Kings have. The bottomline is that this Kings team has an incredibly difficult time putting the ball in the hoop, especially from three. If the Knicks make a concerted effort to contain Fox and Cauley-Stein in the pick-and-roll, and stick on the few shooters that dot this roster, they should be able to come away with a win tonight.
- Vince Carter missed Sacramento’s last game, and will miss tonight’s game, with kidney stones. Now is the appropriate time to call him old and have a little chuckle at his expense. Good? Me too. I have to remind myself that Vince Carter is still in the league sometimes. Oh, you mean THAT Vince Carter? One and the same!
- Tim Hardaway Jr. was tasked with shouldering the offensive load in Porzingis’ stead on Wednesday, and it’s safe to say he put forth a solid effort. The shot selection could still be reeled in a bit, but he scored 26 points on 11-21 shooting, and added 11 rebounds just for good measure. I don’t think there’s too much we should take away from the Orlando game, but if one thing was clear, it’s that Hardaway Jr. can handle being a go-to scoring option if duty calls.
Stephon Marbury and Jimmer Fredette gets into an altercation in China
— NBA Inside Stuff (@NBAInside_Stuff) November 10, 2017
- Most importantly, if you take away one thing from this preview, it should be this: KP BACK. Check out our video preview for tonight’s game, courtesy of Jeffrey Bellone:
— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) November 11, 2017
Tip is set for 8 P.M. at Madison Square Garden tonight. The Knicks will hit the Garden floor, a welcome sight this year as evidenced by their 5-2 record at home, once again on Monday against Cleveland.