This one feels major, not gonna lie.
The Knicks are coming off of one of their most decisive victories of the season, albeit to the lowly Pistons. Meanwhile, we're going into this game on short rest after a disheartening loss to the struggling Bulls. Harden is likely to return, and Kevin is a possibility as well. Both would be rusty if they did play, so it's important that our role players pick up the slack. Kyrie has played is some back-to-backs, BUT it would not shock me if Nash sat him. He looked tired in general after the game, but especially hobbled after diving into the stands and hitting his leg on the guardrail.
Still, we should have more than enough to dispatch the Knicks. No excuses if we lose, we are clearly the more talented squad. That's perhaps the scariest part about playing them: they can walk away proud for losing by 15, but we won't hear the end of it if they eek out a W. "Heavy is the head...", you know the rest.
I'll be interested in the game behind the game, between coaching staffs. New York has out-strategized us in both previous games IMO, and really looked like they were hunting us late in the 4th. Our inbounds scheme has gotten predictable, and our complementary ball-handlers are shaky AF under full court pressure.
All that said, I like our chances. We haven't lossed back-to-back games in almost 2 months, I think we have a resiliency and pride that will serve us well. Some of the outlier statistics that head buoyed New York earlier this season have regressed to the mean, so I don't expect them to shoot a high efficiency, Or for us to stay cold from beyond the arc. Joe needs to stop getting chased off the 3 point line, his dribble drive game has improved but hes playing into the hands of the defense. Most elite shooters know how to make defenders pay for crowding their airspace, by drawing fouls. Harris almost never does this, and New York is one of the best teams at aggressively closing out shooters.
This goes without saying, we need to stagger the minutes of Aldridge and Griffin. I can respect that Nash is a tinkerer, and wanted to see that combo in live game action before dismissing it. Even he admitted that it didn't work. Whether Durant can go or not, Blake needs to be with the 2nd unit, where he can play alongside a more athletic frontcourt partner like Claxton.
This game is ours for the taking. Handle our business, and we don't even need to sweat. But the Knicks are capable of capitalizing on our mistakes. If we give them confidence early and they draw first blood, they could break our will and boat race us. We can't allow that. Embrace our villain role. Sweep the leg.
Some people really have a way with words. Other people... not... have... way.
-- Steve Martin