2020-21 Game Thread: Knicks vs. Rockets

After tonight’s game, one of these two teams will be two games under .500 and the other will be four games under .500. So it’s not exactly like the 1994 NBA Finals here (or that amazing 1995 regular season rematch in the Garden that the Knicks won 122-117, which was quite the high-scoring affair back then. Can anyone name the Knicks starting five in that game? I’d be surprised if anyone could).

Ian Begley reports that Nerlens Noel will be moving into the starting lineup to replace the injured Mitchell Robinson, who got relatively good news about surgery on his broken hand, as it sounds like we’ll see Mitch again in about 20 or so games. I love that Begley has to “report” that. Who in the world else would be starting? Hopefully, though, Obi Toppin gets a little more court time in the absence of Mitch, perhaps paired with Randle at the 5 a little? Or even as a small ball 5 himself.

The Rockets, like the Knicks, have been winning games (or not losing as many games) with defense, so this will be an interesting matchup. When it comes to defense vs. defense, I tend to think Thibs’ teams will always have the advantage, but we shall see!

I was noting earlier today that, due to the play-in tournament, the odds of the Knicks getting the #10 seed have to be extremely high at this point, right? Their only competition is the Bulls, the Cavs and the injury-ravaged Magic. That’s not much in the way of competition, right? So I think the odds are strong that we will see the Knicks play in the “playoffs” this year, much as the Wizards would have last year, so, you know, something to shoot for!

Let’s go be the one who gets to be two under and not four under, Knicks!

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176 thoughts to “2020-21 Game Thread: Knicks vs. Rockets”

  1. If Boogie Cousins is too strong for Noel to handle in the post, I hope they go to Randle to run 5-out. They might be able to play Cousins off the floor because he cannot play perimeter defense (and has stamina issues).

  2. Before yesterday’s game, based on their BPI system, Goldsberry on ESPN has the Knicks at 25% to be in the Play-In games (ATL 80%, CHA 77% IND 74% Chi 44%, with MIL, BRK, PHI, TOR, BOS and MIA taking spots 1 to 6).
    It’s much lower than I thought…

    Let’s go Knicks!

  3. League Pass now televises pregame shows, just heard Wally say Mitch’s injury could be a blessing in disguise. What in the world does MSG network see in this guy.

  4. Do you mean like: exactly what happened with austin rivers just a few weeks ago?

    Yeah, it is kind of funny how Rivers looked pretty good for a time there and now he is super buried.

  5. Before yesterday’s game, based on their BPI system, Goldsberry on ESPN has the Knicks at 25% to be in the Play-In games (ATL 80%, CHA 77% IND 74% Chi 44%, with MIL, BRK, PHI, TOR, BOS and MIA taking spots 1 to 6).

    How in the world do the Bulls have such better odds than the Knicks?

  6. League Pass now televises pregame shows, just heard Wally say Mitch’s injury could be a blessing in disguise. What in the world does MSG network see in this guy.

    He will literally say anything they want him to and will typically find a way to compliment the Knicks.

  7. BTW the Knicks usual starting lineup during 1994-1995 was the usual Ewing-Oak-Smith-Starks-Harper. I know Oak and Smith missed a bunch of games that season, rookie Monty Williams started some games during that stretch. Bonner and Hubert Davis started a bunch of games the previous season when Starks and Smith were out, they actually started the first 7 playoff games in 1994 until Smith and Starks were reinserted during the Bulls series.

  8. The Knicks point differential is down to less than a negative point so it’s not like they are lucky to be close to .500, their record is what it should be. They have played so far like a team that deserves to be in the play-in games.

  9. BigBlueAL:
    BTW the Knicks usual starting lineup during 1994-1995 was the usual Ewing-Oak-Smith-Starks-Harper.I know Oak and Smith missed a bunch of games that season, rookie Monty Williams started some games during that stretch.Bonner and Hubert Davis started a bunch of games the previous season when Starks and Smith were out, they actually started the first 7 playoff games in 1994 until Smith and Starks were reinserted during the Bulls series.

    https://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/199502190NYK.html

    Look at the playing time… Smith 41 min and Ewing 39 in the 50th game of the regular season… those were the days :-)

  10. Wally-while keeping a straight face-asked where the Knicks would be right now if they hadn’t signed Taj Gibson

  11. The Knicks point differential is down to less than a negative point so it’s not like they are lucky to be close to .500, their record is what it should be. They have played so far like a team that deserves to be in the play-in games.

    “A team that deserves to be the 10th seed” isn’t saying a whole lot.

  12. do the rockets have anyone to to protect their rim, can’t think of anyone – hopefully we can dominate them in the paint…

  13. “Wally-while keeping a straight face-asked where the Knicks would be right now if they hadn’t signed Taj Gibson”

    That’s Philosophy at its finest

  14. Oh I agree Brian but I’ve been harping from day 1 that I thought this team had a chance of possibly sneaking into the Top 10 or at the very least stay close enough to 10th for most of the season which would mean that in no way were they gonna tank. The bottom of the East has actually been alot worse than I expected.

  15. ***their record is what it should be. They have played so far like a team that deserves to be in the play-in games.***

    There are only 6 out of 30 teams in the league that have a worse record than them, so by this logic only the Wolves, Pistons, and Wizards don’t deserve to be in the playoff game at this point and pretty much nobody else (which is damning with the faintest praise available).

  16. Max: Before yesterday’s game, based on their BPI system, Goldsberry on ESPN has the Knicks at 25% to be in the Play-In games (ATL 80%, CHA 77% IND 74% Chi 44%, with MIL, BRK, PHI, TOR, BOS and MIA taking spots 1 to 6).
    It’s much lower than I thought…

    And you believe in a guy that says TOR and MIA are a lock to be Top6? Is he still in the preseason?

  17. Right Donnie but the fact is this season the playoffs changed from Top 8 to Top 10. If this was a normal playoff format than in no way would I expect the Knicks to have a chance. But the change to Top 10 from Top 8 makes a huge difference. Nothing to be proud of being 10th but hey for the Knicks sadly this season is the best team they’ve had in 8 years.

  18. cybersoze: And you believe in a guy that says TOR and MIA are a lock to be Top6? Is he still in the preseason?

    I’m just doing reporting work ;-)

  19. Toronto will clearly make the playoffs and most likely the Top 6. Problem for Miami is they dug themselves a big hole, have a horrible record vs the East so far and have a brutal road trip coming up.

  20. clyde just said…”as I mentioned before the rockets play some semblance of defense now”….

  21. I actually totally forgot that Wood was still hurt. So, yeah, the Knicks should be a lot more favored than I first thought.

  22. Brian Cronin: Do you mean like: exactly what happened with austin rivers just a few weeks ago?

    Yeah, it is kind of funny how Rivers looked pretty good for a time there and now he is super buried.

    Of course, Rivers has always sucked and DRose was a MVP, so there’s that…

  23. Someone tells Obi to stop with the 3 ball? There’s a reason the Rockets are leaving him open!

  24. I’d heard the Rockets were playing good D but if you wind up double teaming Elfrid Payton you’re doing something wrong

  25. I’d heard the Rockets were playing good D but if you wind up double teaming Elfrid Payton you’re doing something wrong

    I seriously had that same thought!

  26. The Knicks are making their opponent look like a G League team for the second night in a row.

    Of course, the Rockets w/o Oladipo & Wood and Wizards w/o Beal are not far from G League rosters.

  27. Of course, the Rockets w/o Oladipo & Wood and Wizards w/o Beal are not far from G League rosters.

    I seriously don’t know who Ray Spalding is.

  28. Good first half against another crippled lousy team but this was way better then the sloppy game with the Wizards…

    Quickley and Rose work well together, Good Julius shows up.

  29. Good first half against another crippled lousy team but this was way better then the sloppy game with the Wizards…

    Oh yeah, much better than the Wizards game. The Wizards were, like, a G-League team while the Rockets are just a bad NBA team, so this is a lot more impressive. That game, the Knicks didn’t even play well, the Wizards were just beyond awful. Here, the Knicks are legit playing well.

  30. We had the chance to see Westbrook and Wall back to back, and i can’t say who won the trade, they’re both bad now.

  31. Randle has been having these very under control games that are super encouraging. Last season he would force so much and end up with a ton of turnovers trying to dominate inferior opposition, but he has cleaned up those mistakes a lot this season.

  32. The way i see it Randle keeps getting many difficult shoots but thankfully he has find his touch as also in open 3s.
    As Clyde said He’s in a nice groove

  33. I think Houston won the Westbrook-Wall trade, if only because they got a protected 2023 1st Round pick. The two have identical, long contracts.

  34. ISM is back!

    I think the Invisible Sixth Man is more when good teams shoot terribly from three. Like the Wizards shooting around 20% from three in the last game, I think the Rockets are just bad. Them shooting well from three would be more surprising, ya know? They were just beaten by the Pellies by 29 and the Hornets by 25.

  35. I think Houston won the Westbrook-Wall trade, if only because they got a protected 2023 1st Round pick. The two have identical, long contracts.

    I think Wall looks spry enough that I think they might still be actually able to deal him without an asset. He hasn’t been good, but he looks good and that’s somehow enough sometimes.

  36. I know Barrett has sucked the last couple of games but man do I enjoy watching him play. There’s something about his demeanor and willingness to take it strong to the rim that I really root for.

  37. This is a repeat of last night’s game.

    It’s weird how long Thibs has hung with the starters, right?

  38. Wall has a $47M player option for 2022-23. I cannot imagine any team trading for him (unless they were ditching a similar bad contract). Those 8% raises are killer.

  39. The Rockets are seriously just running a two-man game and the two men are the 2021 versions of John Wall and Eric Gordon…that should not be working at all!

  40. I think Wall looks spry enough that I think they might still be actually able to deal him without an asset. He hasn’t been good, but he looks good and that’s somehow enough sometimes.

    Wall is making 45 million a year, they’ll have to attach some sort of asset to move him, even if he looks good at times.

  41. wall has a shot to recover…. with the type of injury he had and with how long he was out it’s surprising how good he’s looked….

    not that he looks amazing… but he has a much better shot than westbrook….

  42. 8-1 run since the Rockets closed within 5, with Quickley accounting for six of those eight.

  43. I know those threes were gross, but it’s bizarre that Toppin is playing less with Mitch out. I know, it’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals and they’re playing the Los Angeles Lakers so you can’t experiment, but it’s still a bit disappointing.

  44. thibs brought in rose before quick this time and i had all the panic in gear and ready to go

    It is still weird that Rose is playing more than Quickley.

  45. Having Rose in the lineup takes a lot of the heat away from IQ. He doesn’t have to carry Austin Rivers anymore.

  46. The second unit is just different…
    Quickley and Rose are more dangerous, opposing defense must adjust and they open a lot of space for other players…

  47. Brian, while I agree we need to see some more Toppin, I’m totally okay with the fast (can’t say quick) hook for Obi earlier. That was some abysmal play, and he deserved to sit for a while and rethink his very reason for being.

    (And for the record, I don’t actually believe there’s a real Invisible Sixth Man. I just appreciate the narrative.)

  48. Max:
    The second unit is just different…
    Quickley and Rose are more dangerous and they open a lot of space for other players…

    Modern NBA spacing is a hell of a thing.

  49. Brian Cronin:
    I know those threes were gross, but it’s bizarre that Toppin is playing less with Mitch out. I know, it’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals and they’re playing the Los Angeles Lakers so you can’t experiment, but it’s still a bit disappointing.

    If lead stays, there’s zero reason he should come out for rest of night. I also think they should keep feeding him in post … on cue he hits the 3

  50. On the other hand, there’s NO reason to sub Randle in for Obi up by 19 with 6 minutes left. That’s just flat-out stupid.

  51. Raven:
    On the other hand, there’s NO reason to sub Randle in for Obi up by 19 with 6 minutes left. That’s just flat-out stupid.

    It’s frustrating

  52. I would challenge that foul call on Randle. Cousins’ heel was on the restricted line & he was moving.

    If the challenge is successful, I would sub out for Randle right after the FT.

  53. Jeremy Lin (29, 7 3PFG, 9 ast) beat the Westchester Knicks,
    Trae Young took only 8 shots and Atlanta lose again.

  54. That one was just weird. Obi was playing relatively well for a change, Knicks up big. Let’s put our most productive player back in and increase odds of injury rather than letting our big rookie a chance to learn on the court. Pinson should sub in for Obi right now, not Obi back in for Randle (if that even happens).

  55. Randle wants to play, put stats and get paid after this season
    I don’t think it’s only Thibs’ behind that one

  56. Thibs often subs Toppin after a good sequence,
    it’s frustrating to watch on TV so imagine how’s for Toppin…

  57. I’m writing an article about Webster right now and I seriously just wrote Immanuel Lewis.

    your skinemax treatise is gonna feel very confusing

  58. I was just going to say that Obi and Knox on the court together was redundant until that lob and dunk.

  59. Just love watching this team – they compete and they play no nonsense defense and is, for a change, well coached and prepared

  60. Good win with some very watchable moments.

    Payton and Barrett (22 mins apiece) glued to the bench after nearly blowing the lead,
    not even Thibs had the courage to put them back in with Quickley and Rose stomping the Rockets…

    I know that the “era of the three” changed the parameters of “garbage time” but I still don’t get playing Randle and Noel with 3 minutes to go up by 20.

    7th in the East…

  61. Derrick Rose for Dennis Smith Jr and a 2nd round pick – a steal for the Knicks.

  62. Brian Cronin: “A team that deserves to be the 10th seed” isn’t saying a whole lot.

    The Knicks have 13 wins after 28 games. They got their 7th win on game 28 last year. I think it says a whole lot.

  63. BigBlueAL:
    If Obi didn’t take 3pters his FG% would be pretty impressive.

    He was a good (hot?) 3 point shooter last season. His shot is a mess this year, but the potential is there.

  64. On the one hand, I know a couple of wins here and there will probably destroy us in the draft.

    On the other hand, there is no way we could have lost to these two teams

  65. Owen:
    On the one hand, I know a couple of wins here and there will probably destroy us in the draft.

    On the other hand, there is no way we could have lost to these two teams

    Believe me, I get it, but they aren’t worried about the draft. They are worried about calling up the agent for a top player they are interested in trading for or signing and not hearing laughter and then the phone click. They want to make the playoffs, accelerate the development of young players, and change the perception of the organization. So far so good.

  66. Randle is playing at the end of these blow out games for one reason and one reason only. He’s dying to make the all star game. Thibs is helping him pile ups stats as a reward for all the hard work that has him in a position to be considered for it to begin with.

  67. We had 9 players that took between 5 and 15 shots. Say what you want, it’s nice to root for a team that has a balanced scoring approach.

    The other thing is, our defense is great at not switching unless necessary, and then when a switch leads to a mismatch, switch again to a more favorable matchup. I see that all the time with this team, a very cerebral and fluid approach to matchups.

  68. #Straight out of my ass alert#
    Losing any player on this Knicks team don’t seem so season altering as it seems for other star studded teams to lose their basic star for a long time.

  69. Knew Your Nicks:
    Randle wants to play, put stats and get paid after this season
    I don’t think it’s only Thibs’ behind that one

    Randle gets a big bonus- $900,000- if he makes the all-star team so I’m sure Thibs will do everything he can to get him there.

  70. #Randle gets a big bonus- $900,000- if he makes the all-star team so I’m sure Thibs will do everything he can to get him there.#

    Fair.
    He also plays for his next big contract.
    His “career” one.

    #The only irreplaceable player on this team is Randle. Without him, we’re fucked.#

    Seems that way statistically but allow me to feel that we ‘re not.

  71. Thibs’ system seems to upgrade our players’ value, not the opposite imo

    At least not so much

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