The Knicks have a rare chance for consecutive wins on the road if they can beat the Cleveland Cavaliers again, this time on Monday with the trade deadline looming.
Well, that was quite the eventful last week for the Knicks.
The New York Knicks (14-36) went 1-2 in their three games played last week, but the game against Memphis in Madison Square Garden sparked a lot of controversy towards New York for multiple reasons. By now, everyone has seen the clips and read stories of what happened that night, so it’s time to move forward.
New York ended last week with an upset win over one of the leagues most surprising teams this season, the Indiana Pacers. Julius Randle had a monster statline with 16 points and 18 rebounds, but Marcus Morris was unguardable in that fourth quarter and was the reason they left Indiana with a victory.
New York kicks off their week in Cleveland for a matchup against the Cavaliers (13-37). These two teams have been at the bottom of the Eastern Conference all season, and with the trade deadline approaching, both are rumored to be sellers.
The Cavs head into tonight’s contest fresh off of a blowout 131-112 home loss against the Golden State Warriors. They have dropped two of the three meetings against the Knicks thus far this season, as the ‘Bockers look to improve to 3-1 tonight in the final game of the season series.
Knicks Injury Report
- R.J. Barrett is still out with a sprained ankle. Last week he was able to walk without crutches in a walking boot.
- Frank Ntilikina is still suffering from a sore groin. He is probable.
Injury Report for 2/3 at Cleveland: Probable – Frank Ntilikina (sore groin), Julius Randle (contused right quad) and Mitchell Robinson (sore bilateral hamstring); Questionable – Marcus Morris Sr. (Illness); Out – RJ Barrett (sprained right ankle).— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) February 3, 2020
- Marcus Morris is now questionable with an illness.
Last Knicks-Cavs Game…
The last time these two teams met, the Knicks won 106-86 on the road. Marcus Morris and Julius Randle had 19 apiece and most of their damage around the basket, as many teams do against the Cavaliers. The Cavs’ lack of a rim protector has crippled their defense. They already have two of the worst defensive wings starting in their back court and don’t have that second line of defense to make up for it. The Knicks need to take advantage of this poor Cleveland defense again.
Back-to-Back Road Wins?
New York enters tonight’s game in at bottom of the Atlantic Division and 7.5 games out of the last playoff spot in the east. They are 28th in scoring at 103.8 points per game, and dead last at 30th in three-pointers made per game. A stellar defensive effort saw them defeat the Pacers on Saturday holding them to only 85 points. The Cavs are not the opponent that the Pacers are, so back-to-back road wins is in play for a team that is 7-18 away from the Garden.
More Dotson Minutes, Please
Damyean Dotson has been playing good basketball as of late. Much like the rest of the young core for the Knicks, he has struggled to find a consistent role and playing time with the team. But, with injuries, suspensions, and lineup experimentation, he has had some offensive explosions that should not be overlooked.
Dot has been balling lately pic.twitter.com/xaU39fs9iy— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) February 2, 2020
Cleveland’s backcourt, defensively, is…not good. Collin Sexton on the year has a 118.1 Defensive Rating, and Darius Garland has a 113.9 (via NBA Stats). With Ntilikina’s minutes decreased and status of the game in question, Dotson should get a lot of minutes. He is one of our best shooters in any situation. Catch and shoot, one dribble pull-ups, stepbacks, Dotson can do it just better than anyone on the team besides Mook. Hopefully we see another of his offensive onslaughts.
Questioning Mike Miller’s Decisions
Since Mike Miller took over the team, not much has changed since the Fizdale regime in terms of shaking up the lineup and various rotations. The Knicks are still a team that plays their vets a boatload of minutes which takes time away from their young core to develop properly. This is something we will probably see in tonight’s game as well.
Fans have grown extremely frustrated with this decision. One may ask, “How are these players ever going to develop if they aren’t put into situations that force them to get better and grow as players?” And that question, and the frustrations that come with it, are warranted.
Miller is put in a lose-lose situation, though. He is coaching for his job and a chance at millions of dollars to coach the NBA’s most valuable franchise. If he continues to play the young core and lose games, like every other coach before him has done, the front office wouldn’t be too confident in keeping him around to be the next head coach. If he can at least win some games with better players, he can sell the front office on the idea that he can win if he has the talent around him.
It’s disheartening seeing DNP-CD’s for guys like Alonzo Trier, Frank Ntilikina, Frank Knox, etc., this season, though.
Keys to the Game
- Attack the Cavs’ guards all night
- Get to the paint at will, Cleveland give up the most points in the paint in the league
- Keep Randle on Love. He has done a good job in that matchup thus far
- More Dotson minutes
- Feed Mook when he’s in. He can dice up this defense.
The Knicks head home after tonight for a game against the Orlando Magic, then hit the road again for a road back to back against the Hawks and the Pistons. There are lots of very winnable games this week for New York.