2019-20 Game Thread: Knicks vs. Bulls

Somehow, the Knicks haven’t started a season 0-4 since Larry Brown was the coach and they won 23 games on route to watching the Chicago Bulls draft LaMarcus Aldridge with the Knicks’ first round pick (thank goodness the Bulls then moronically traded Aldridge for Tyrus Thomas. It would have been way too hard to watch that Bulls team have both Aldridge and Joakim Noah from Knicks picks paired with Derrick Rose).

I would imagine that they’re going to avoid an 0-4 start this season, as well, as the Knicks host the Bulls tonight and the Bulls are not particularly good, either, so you would typically give the edge to the home team in this situation.

The Knicks’ starting lineup remains the same (thank goodness Fizdale is committed to a consistent and logical starting lineup), but the rotation is off due to Dennis Smith Jr. leaving the team due to the sudden death of his stepmother. Our condolences to the Smith family. Frank Ntilikina will be the back-up point guard tonight, so expect Elfrid Payton to play 47 minutes.

In other sad Knick news, former Knick GM Al Bianchi passed away after a long battle with cancer. He was 87. Bianchi helped build the early 1990s Knicks squad, finding diamonds in the rough like John Starks and Anthony Mason and making the excellent Charles Oakley/Bill Cartwright trade (less well known about that trade is that the Knicks and Bulls swapped first round picks in the deal, with the Knicks going from #11 to #19, where the Knicks took Rod Strickland. The Strickland pick technically worked out, as he was a very good NBA player, but they dumped him in his second season due to him complaining about his minutes). RIP, Al!

The Bulls matchup looks like a particularly good one for RJ Barrett, so I expect another strong performance from the rookie. I hope the Knicks play Mitchell Robinson more minutes tonight. Just let him foul out if need be. Let him learn from his actions.

Let’s go, Knicks!

NY Post: RJ Barrett already showing he’s ‘stud’ Knicks hoped for

Marc Berman is as pumped up about RJ Barrett as us!

RJ Barrett has done everything but win in his first three NBA games.

After a strong preseason, Barrett has been even better in the regular season because he’s even hitting his 3-point shots — not just muscling to the hoop with great body control and inside shot-making flair.

Barrett has achieved an impressive three-game milestone. The 6-foot-7 sniper and only one other player in NBA history have tallied at least 60 points and 15 rebounds and notched five 3-pointers in their first three games. That other player is Kevin Durant.

The third pick in the draft is now the Knicks leading scorer, averaging 21 points.

“He’s a stud,” coach David Fizdale said. “That’s the only way I can put it. He’s a stud.”

As I noted in the Celtics game, it’s remarkable how quickly it’s gotten to the point where the team sort of falls apart when Barrett is not on the court. That’s a huge statement about the 19-year-old (and also about the rest of the Knicks roster, but let’s look on the bright side here).