The Knicks look to get back on track against a tough Memphis Grizzlies team after one of their cleanest wins of the season on Monday.

After a wire-to-wire win over Sacramento, the New York Knicks (24-27) tip off the month of February with a Wednesday night showdown with the Memphis Grizzlies (35-18) at Madison Square Garden.

This will be the first meeting between New York and Memphis this season. Last year, the Knicks swept the series with the Grizzlies, besting them in both meetings amid their strong late-season surge. Now, the roles seem to be reversed. New York has been up-and-down this season, while Memphis has built up some considerable momentum since Christmas.

The Grizzlies catapulted themselves up the Western Conference standings and have a firm hold on third place entering Wednesday, winning 16 of 20 games since December 25th, a stretch that was highlighted by an 11-game winning streak. Memphis recently hit a speed bump though, suffering an overtime loss in Philadelphia, but expect a determined effort on Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, the Knicks will look to build off of their win over Sacramento on Monday, which broke a three-game losing skid.

Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. ET and the game will be on ESPN, MSG Network, and Bally Sports Southeast.

Ja Morant, obviously

Ja Morant continues to do Ja Morant things, and that’s pretty much whatever Memphis needs from him to win. Whether it’s scoring, defending, or facilitating, the young, first-time All-Star starter point guard has been at the forefront of the Grizzlies’ success.

His third year in the NBA has been his best yet, and he’s on pace to set career highs in nearly every statistical category. Morant enters Wednesday night averaging 26.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 1.3 steals while shooting 49.1% overall.

The Murray State product has been on fire as of late. Although his attempts to rally his team to a potential comeback win fell short on Monday night, it was another stat-stuffed performance for Morant, who had 37 points against the Sixers.

The team goes as far as he goes. The Grizzlies quickly fell behind Philadelphia after a quiet first half by Morant, but nearly had a chance to snatch the game when he heated up after the break. He extended his streak of 30-point performances in the process, reaching the mark in each of the last seven games.

While he’ll be the top priority for the Knicks on defense, don’t sleep on the rest of his teammates.

Second-year wing Desmond Bane has doubled his scoring production since his rookie season, elevating from 9.2 to 18.1 points per game, while maintaining his scoring efficiency and threatening three-point shot. Bane’s emergence has been a welcomed addition for the Grizzlies this season, especially as secondary scorer Dillon Brooks remains out with an ankle injury. Bane also poured it on in the loss to Philadelphia, draining five three-pointers en route to a 34-point finish.

Jaren Jackson Jr. remains a consistent and productive player from the 4 spot, and he’s taken some strides on the defensive end. Jackson averages 16.4 points, 5.8 boards, and 2.3 blocks per game. A former longtime member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Steven Adams has carved out a role for himself as a glass cleaner and interior defender, but don’t expect him to be a scoring threat.

Off the bench, Memphis’ top options are Brandon Clarke and De’Anthony Melton. Brandon Clarke has been up-and-down lately, after a solid start to the New Year. When he gets going, he’s an efficient scorer inside the arc. As for Melton, he’s much more inconsistent compared to Clarke, but he’s a solid energy guy that rebounds well out of the guard spot.

PrizePicks of the Night

The Knicks Wall’s exclusive partnership with PrizePicks presents the picks of the night. Tonight, we’re looking to strike on Evan Fournier’s fast starts by hitting “over” on his projected 6.5 first-half points. On the Grizzlies side, we’re taking “over” on rising star wing Desmond Bane’s overall made three-pointers, projected at 2.5.

Use promo code “TKW” and take advantage of a 100% deposit match, up to $100, with The Knicks Wall’s partnership with PrizePicks.

Switching it up

Before Monday’s win against Sacramento, coach Tom Thibodeau mentioned that the Knicks needed to “play with more pace, push the ball ahead more.”

New York answered the call, by raising the intensity on both ends of the court and playing with a bit more pace against Sacramento. The Knicks haven’t pushed the tempo much this season and rank towards the bottom of the NBA regarding pace. Monday was a refreshing change, but as the old adage goes, saying it and doing it are two different things.

With the Knicks below .500, they’ll need to do that more than once. It won’t be easier against a Morant-led Memphis team, and Thibodeau is known for being firm in his ways, but hopefully, Monday’s change will be more of a permanent one and not a one-time experiment.

While on the topic of changes, it’s been said many times before, but also proven on Monday night. When the Knicks’ younger players got a chance for extended minutes, players like Obi Toppin and Quentin Grimes thrived. Immanuel Quickley might not have lit up the scoreboard, but he finished with a plus/minus rating of +18.

Hopefully, these guys will get a chance to impact the game in pivotal stretches or have more of a chance to play, rather than when the Knicks are pulling away or when the game is firmly in hand.

Conversations like this have appeared various times throughout the season and they reemerge when a bench player does well, and rightfully so, but with only a couple of months left in the regular season, it might be time for Thibodeau to actually make these adjustments moving forward.

Injury report

The Knicks do not have any new injuries; it’s still Derrick Rose on the shelf until after the All-Star break later this month.

For the Grizzlies, center Steven Adams is listed as questionable with an ankle sprain (he played in Philly on Monday). Dillion Brooks is out along with Memphis’ pair of two-way contract players.


Related Content

»READ: RJ Barrett should be the one facilitating the offense

»READ: Does Mitchell Robinson have a future with the Knicks?

»READ: Which Knicks should be available at the trade deadline?