Tonight the Pistons will be at Madison Square Garden for a game against the Knickerbockers at 7:30pm est. The Pistons are on 2 days rest, while the Knicks are on 1 day rest coming off of a loss to the Celtics on Sunday.
The Them: The Knicks are an odd collection of players who despite having some success so far this year, are still often times trying to find themselves it appears. Running the triangle is an odd thing too. (I've nothing else to add to that lol, it just is.) The Knicks are still spearheaded by Carmelo Anthony who is scoring just 22 points per game (which is low for him) but is also taking on a noticeably lighter load on the offensive end. But he is still the midrange, isolation monster that he always has been, but with the new twist of being much more willing to move the ball and also playing solid defense. (He has not been nearly as bad as his reputation on either of those for a while now though.) New York's golden boy Kristaps Porzingis is VERY good for a rookie, although it should be noted that it is that rookie status that makes him exciting because his 13.3 ppg are not especially efficient. His defense is capable of being scary good though because he is hella long and he knows it. Arron Afflalo still looks like he will never recapture those couple of years of being really good in Orlando, but he is still a solid SG who is also scoring 13.3ppg and doing it fairly efficiently. (although his 3point shooting has been a bit down) Something called a Lance Thomas is (according to Knicks fans) actually the teams 3rd option on offense right now and is capable of scoring some efficient points. Robin Lopez is still doing lots of Robin Lopez things (and I don't know for sure if he is still underrated or if he is overrated now since everyone is constantly talking about how underrated he is. He is a very good starting center, but not more than that.) like rebound and play defense. But he is getting a lot more post ups than he ever has before in his career, although they often are just a means of getting into the triangle as opposed to an isolation for him. Jose Calderon is still a very efficient offensive PG, but he can't really defend anyone, and he also is not exactly creating lots of good looks for guys on offense either. Langston Galloway and Jerain Grant have struggled to make good on the promise that was seen in them as they struggle to find their way in the offense, and their shots. Derrick Williams has not exactly been good, but I think he may have found a pretty good role for him and he seems to be more comfortable with his game as a inside athlete scorer type. Some white guy named Kyle O'Quinn is the backup C Edit: I know he's black guys, its a joke. and he is a very solid one, he can pass, shoot a little bit, and is a good communicator on defense. The thing that makes the Knicks a potentially goofy team to defend is the fact that they (kind of) play like it is the 90s still, posting up literally everyone. I have seen almost every player on the Knicks post up at various times, and while this has not made for a super offense, (OffRtg: 100.2 which is very average) it is still a bit of an oddity to guard. They are also struggling to defend now with a DefRtg. of 102.9 and this has been the biggest reason for them falling back in the standings from a very solids start. Overall the Knicks are not a bad team, but until they either find a solution at PG or figure out how to play better defense they will not be all that good. Although Carmelo Anthony did not have a great start to the year, and he is really good and starting to come on as of late. Either way, not pushovers by any stretch.
Matchups to watch:
- Pistons vs. Guarding Anthony/Porzingis: The Pistons have actually done a pretty solid job with big wing scorers lately, but it s still a hole in the defense. Greater Morris will get most of the job on Anthony, and he is big enough to contest the midrange jumpers that Anthony loves so much. But Anthony figures to be too quick for Morris to effectively stay in front of. And Porzingis will likely be watched by Ersan/Tolly for most of the game. And niether of them figure to be big enough to stand much of a chance to contest anything he wants to do, which does not mean certain death for the Pistons because Porzingis is still a rookie and ergo not in full control of all his powers yet. But even a rookie can figure it out for a game when given the opportunity. But then again, Ersan will probably punk him into a charge or 2. (And it will be hilarious.) Either way, these two are the top options in the Knicks offense, and the Pistons don't have a great matchup for either of them. Although I am excited to see how Stanley Johnson does against Melo. (assuming he gets at least a little time against him.)
- Greater Morris vs. Attacking Anthony: As stated earlier, Anthony is playing solid defense this year. But you still need to make sure to make him work on defense. The other thing is that Marcus has a excellent ability to get guys to commit stupid fouls on him while jostling for position, and Melo is not too foul averse so I think Morris could get a foul or 2 on him. The biggest thing here though is just that Melo will probably do very well on offense against Morris, so Morris will have to be able to find some offense to get at least some of the points back. Andre vs. Everyone: You know the drill on this point. Andre is the monster of the paint, and how effectively he dominates it will be a large decider for the game's final outcome. Robin Lopez is a smart and tough rebounder and defender, so Andre will probably have his work cut out for him. But Lopez is also not any sort of high flying athlete, so provided Andre is willing to put in some real effort he should be too much for Lopez to effectively handle. At which point the Knicks don't really have any answer for him. (Maybe after some more weight Kristaps can but I'd be surprised if he could do much to stop Andre right now.)
- Reggie vs. Lol who is guarding him?: The Knicks PGs are bad, and they are especially bad on defense. Reggie should figure to have a very good game where he is largely allowed to live in the paint to score for himself or create for others. It is honestly not complicated here, Reggie just needs to make sure to not have that odd off night and he should have a really solid game. And given that there is not a lot of great defenders to back up the PGs (as opposed to Utah for example where despite constantly getting into the paint, Gobert was there to help clean things up.) Reggie has a chance to have a huge game.
- SVG vs. Stopping this bullshit: There have been several stories that have said that Jennings is officially 100% ready to go at this point. (and today was the last date given for his return so it is right on schedule.) And yet those same stories generally say that SVG is hesitant to play Jennings because Steve Blake has done "such a good job" as the backup PG. He might just be trying to rile Jennings up a bit, but if Jennings does not play now I am not going to hold back. Steve Blake has salvaged a little bit by his regression to the mean with his shooting. (he has been super hot as of late after being super cold to start the year) But that will not keep up, he cannot guard anyone, and KCP/Stanley Johnson/Morris take on lead ball handler duties with regularity because Blake is just not very good. If Jennings is truly 100% ready to go then he needs to play, Steve Blake is not good. (now perhaps Jennings will come in and look bad/rusty. But SVG has said that Jennings has looked good and looks totally ready.)
- KCP vs. Hurt?: Carryover from last game. He hurt his leg a few nights ago, but he played. His defense looked just fine and showed no signs of being hurt, but his offense was absolutely miserable last time out. So hopefully it was just an off night for him.
So in conclusion.
Cackle with knowing glee if:
Reggie Jackson has 30 points at halftime off of a flurry of Drives.
Marcus Morris is able to get Melo in foul trouble.
Andre is the destroyer of worlds.
SVG was just messing with everyone and Jennings plays and looks good.
Run for the hills if:
Melo/Kristaps are scoring largely unhindered.
Reggie has that random off night where he just can't get it going.
Steve Blake plays.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Reggie comes close to a 50 point game.
Andre has another 20/20
Kristaps scores 20 points.
Steve Blake scores 30 points and has 20 assists and 10 steals just to spite me.
The Knicks are not that good but they has some fun guys to watch on their team. And given the potential for Reggie to have a crazy game this game should be very worthwhile. And also, even if SVG does not want to give the backup PG minutes to Jennings yet, (as some ploy of making him earn it) this was the date given for Jennings return, so I would expect him to play a few minutes at least so that would be cool.
What do you think? Think Reggie will score 100? Think Steve Blake will score 100? Let me know! We All get smarter!