Get the bear spray.
So not only are the Knicks a legitimately good team with a better record than some pre-season championship echelon teams. They can also slather the lower crust punks with a heaping helping of points tapenade, rest their star and try out some funky formations for the up and coming second-year player. The push the top tier, they lambaste the bottom and they have a chance to win every single night without exception. What a fun group to root for.
Tonight they’ll take on the Grizzlies who have a tasty schedule of salmon swimming up to them. Minnesota, Detroit, two against Sacramento and they close the season with a Golden State team that may be in the post-season and resting Steph Curry or out and resting Steph Curry. The Grizz may also still hold the memory of New York pulverizing them and seizing an overtime win at the Garden a month ago. What motivates them more? Getting out of tonight without too many cuts and scars? Or doing everything in their power to increase their .5 game lead on Golden State for the eighth spot?
No signs of a Luca Vildoza signing just yet. Maybe they’re waiting to give Jared Harper a second ten-day contract. They could technically do that, then waive Harper, then sign Vildoza. Or they could sign Vildoza after the season ends to reach the salary floor, but leaving him off the playoff roster. Or they could trade for somebody on draft night to reach the salary floor and then sign Vildoza with the room exception. Or they could waive their starting point guard and sign Vildoza right now. We shall see.
Elfrid Payton v Ja Morant
Reggie Bullock v Grayson Allen
RJ Barrett v Dillon Brooks
Julius Randle v Kyle Anderson
Nerlens Noel v Jonas Valanciunas
Alec Burks has been working his way back and today could be the day he reappears. RJ Barrett has been doing a hell of a job buoying Burks’ spot in the rotation. He looks really comfortable when you hand him the controller. I say, let him play.
The Grizz should be letting everyone play, but it is worth noting that Grayson Allen has a hand injury and should be considered questionable. As for the Knicks, Nerlens Noel sprained his ankle and didn’t return last night. I just have a funny feeling that he’ll take a stab at getting back out there tonight. If not, Taj Gibson may actually have a little more success with Jonas Valanciunas, that burly trickster.
Keys & Predictions
Since we last scratched our backs against the Grizzly tree, they’ve reintroduced Jaren Jackson Jr. and he’s been getting around 20-minutes per contest with a rest day every third game. That means he’s likely in there tonight. If Julius Randle will kindly blast through his chest the entire time he’s out there, I would greatly appreciate it.
The Grizzlies play fast and feisty but I have a hard time believing Ja Morant is going to bang as many threes as he did last time. That amount of extra leverage could be all it takes to flip these bear steaks in the iron skillet. Let it rest and stick a fork in ‘em. Something tells me the Grizzlies will look down the schedule if the Knicks bring enough heat early on.
Meanwhile the Knicks look down the line and it’s the top of the Western Conference staring them down, with a pair of Eastern Conference rivals as the chaser. They need to get this one desperately.
Game is at 9:00, Knicks by -6.
The Knicks set the table with a plate of broth, a rusty knife, a cup of salt-water and they write “napkin” backward on your forehead.
How you finish matters most but how you start matters. Bring me the kid from the Spanish league!