Giannis Antetokounmpo seeks revenge against Mario Hezonja and the Knicks as New York hosts the Bucks at the Garden for a Christmas Day unboxing of NBA games.
The Knickerbockers (9-25) will kick off the NBA’s Christmas Day slate of games with a matinee matchup against the second place Milwaukee Bucks (22-10) in MSG. Having lost four in a row and nine of their last 10, New York is in dire need of a win to get back on track.
Milwaukee, winners of six of their last eight, has more than exceeded expectations so far this season. Largely due to their new addition head coach in Mike Budenholzer, the Bucks have been able to pull it all together this season and are looking to make a run into the playoffs.
In their last encounter, the Knicks and Bucks went back and forth in a great overtime game that ended with New York pulling away a 136-134 win. Thanks to an all-around team effort, the Knicks were able to get past Giannis Antetokounmpo’s insane 33-19-7 stat line and pick up a W.
Aside from all that, this was also the game in which Mario Hezonja put his manhood at risk after he stepped over Antetokounmpo following a contact dunk. Giannis told reporters after the game that he would “punch him in the nuts next time.” So there’s that.
HEZONJA WITH THE CONTACT ? pic.twitter.com/Jz4DlE4eez— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) December 1, 2018
Despite most of them resulting in losses, the past few games have been great for Kevin Knox. The rook is averaging 21.8 and six in his last seven outings, and just last game he was as aggressive as ever, dropping 17 in the first quarter and 24 points total.
It’s been great to see Knox gaining confidence as the season goes on. While at times he can still be timid with the ball in his hands, his offensive game has seen huge improvements. When Kevin is hot, the Knicks simply run smoother, as Knox can be a threat with both his shot and his drive, opening up a multitude of options for the offense when he’s on the court.
Also, when Kevin Knox plays, the Knicks beat the Bucks. On October 22nd, Kevin didn’t play, and Milwaukee beat New York. But, on December 1st Kevin played, and New York beat Milwaukee. So pretty much all Knox has to do is play and the Knicks should win. This is a fact.
The Freakiest of All Greeks, Giannis Antetokounmpo, has been on a tear this season. He dominates both sides of the court whenever he’s on it, and has the numbers to prove it. So how will the Knicks stop the MVP candidate? They probably won’t. However, if New York is able to slow down his supporting cast, which include the likes of Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton, they’ll have a better chance of staying in the game with the Bucks.
As for Giannis, the Knicks will have to throw a variety of matchups on to him in their attempts to slow him down. Expect Noah Vonleh, Knox, and Lance Thomas among others to get their shot at guarding the Freak.
The Knicks of Christmas Past
In the history of the NBA, the most honorable Knickerbockers have played 55 Christmas games—more than any other team. In these games they have 22 wins and 30 losses, both of which are also NBA Christmas records.
Recently, however, the Knicks losing on Christmas day has become a staple in the NBA. In their last five holiday games, they’ve been unable to pull off a single win.
- 2017: Lost to Philadelphia, 105-98
- 2016: Lost to Boston, 119-114
- 2014: Lost to Washington, 102-91
- 2013: Lost to OKC, 123-94
- 2012: Lost to Los Angeles, 100-94
With the basketball that they’ve played as of late, it’s looking like it won’t be easy for the Knicks to hang with Milwaukee. Unless Santa Claus himself suits up for New York, the Bucks will be heavily favored to take this one home.
It’d be nice to see the Knicks pick up a win for Christmas. Don’t get your hopes up though, this team crushes those.
The two Eastern Conference teams on opposite sides of the standings will suit up at the Garden at 12:00 p.m. EST.