The Knicks welcome new additions Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, and Wesley Matthews as they face the Memphis Grizzlies for the final time this season at the Garden.
David Fizdale faces his old team once again, as the Memphis Grizzlies come to the Garden for the second and final leg of the regular season series.
The New York Knicks (10-41) bested the Grizzlies back in November—the last time New York enjoyed consecutive victories. That 103-98 win was a nice return to the FedEx Forum for Fizdale, and it marked a three-game winning streak for the Knicks. New York hasn’t won back-to-back games since then. As a matter of fact, the Knicks are currently riding a 12-game losing streak, creeping up on a franchise record of 13.
Perhaps they’ll turn their fortunes around against the Grizzlies (20-33) with the new pieces they’ve brought in. Memphis comes to the Garden on a three-game losing streak. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET on Super Bowl Sunday.
Welcome to the Garden!
Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, and Wesley Matthews were all at Madison Square Garden less than a week ago, although on a different team. Smith dazzled with a triple-double performance against the Knicks. Matthews was a sniper on the perimeter, knocking down five three-pointers en route to a 17-point game. Jordan had a quiet game, but he made all three of his shots and grabbed nine boards. Less than 24 hours later, they were all acquired in a trade that sent shockwaves across New York and the rest of the NBA landscape, leaving fans with a flurry of emotions from skepticism to excitement, anger to confusion, and disbelief to “well, this better work out.”
Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, and Trey Burke are out. Smith, Jordan, and Matthews are in.
The trio of newcomers didn’t play in Friday’s game against Brooklyn, but after clearing physicals they are all ready to go.
Suit up 👀 pic.twitter.com/VsiUsNYMTD— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) February 3, 2019
Smith averaged 12.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 4.3 assists so far this season, while shooting 44 percent on the floor. Matthews was Dallas’s third-highest scorer, behind Luka Doncic and Harrison Barnes, averaging 13.1 points. Known for his two-way ability and perimeter shooting, he’s knocked down 38 percent of his takes from beyond the arc. Then there’s Jordan, who was most famously known for his time during the “Lob City” era of the Los Angeles Clippers. This was his first season with Dallas, and now he’s being shipped to New York after averaging a double-double—11 points and 13.7 rebounds—along with 1.1 blocks per game.
No Rising Stars Challenge, No Problem
While the anticipation for Sunday’s game is mostly for the newcomers—and the Super Bowl—some of the younger Knicks are coming in hot. Kevin Knox was left off the Rising Stars Challenge roster for the NBA’s All-Star weekend festivities, but this week will have you believe he’s trending back upwards. He’s scored at least 17 points in each of the three games for New York since Monday, and he’s coming off of a 21-point and five-rebound outing against the Celtics. He’s being aggressive again, which is where you want him to be.
The same can be said for Damyean Dotson. Dotson has mostly been fairly inconsistent since a hot start to the season. However, he tipped off the month of February with a nice performance against Boston, in what was not a pretty game overall for the Knicks. The big trade afforded Dotson a starting gig, and he was the best he’s been in a while. Dotson is coming off of a season-high 22 points, in which he was efficient on the floor—knocking down 9-of-16 shot attempts, including four three-pointers. It’ll be interesting to see how these young players, along with Allonzo Trier, will play with the trio of new additions.
Get Those Brooms Out?
The Knicks missed their chance with the Mavericks, but now they have an opportunity for a season sweep against the Grizzlies. Leading scorer Mike Conley is listed as questionable for action due to a knee condition. He didn’t play in Memphis’ previous game with Charlotte, and heavy trade rumors have been swirling around the 11-year veteran, but no move has been made as of yet. Although Conley didn’t have an efficient shooting night against New York back in November, he did finish with a 23-point, 11-assist double-double without turning the ball over. He’s been a prominent member of the Grizzlies for a while, and not having him would put a bulk of the responsibilities on the frontcourt tandem of Jaren Jackson Jr. and Marc Gasol.
Gasol is Memphis’ second-highest scorer after Conley, posting 15.6 points per game. He gashed the Knicks with a game-high 27 points and five blocks in their previous meeting, and there’s no doubt he’ll be getting the ball a lot.
The same goes for Jackson, who has been coming along nicely as a rookie. He didn’t miss one shot against the Knicks and gave them a difficult time defensively. He finished with 16 points on perfect 6-for-6 shooting, six rebounds, and seven blocks. These will be the two main players to watch, especially if Conley doesn’t play.