2020-21 Game Thread: Knicks @ Raptors

The Knicks head to…TAMPA to play the Toronto Raptors tonight, as Canada still won’t let sports teams play in the country, so the Raptors are playing their home games in Tampa. Amusingly, Kevin Knox is from Tampa, so he gets to play at his hometown. Larry Brown would start him over Barrett.

Burks and Quickley are out tonight and while Smith is with the team, he’s unlikely to play. Austin Rivers, though, will be playing without getting any scrimmages in, so that’ll be interesting.

The Raptors are 0-3 and are struggling with the loss of both Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, replacing them with Aron Baynes and gum and spit. Fred VanVleet has been terrible, as well.

If the Knicks win, they’ll be over .500 for the latest in a season since they were over .500 after Game 33 of the 2017-18 season. That’s insane. Not only that, but due to the vagaries of the NBA schedule this year, this means that the Knicks would enter 2021 with a winning record if they won tonight, something that hasn’t happened with this team since Jason Kidd was still on the team! Game 33 of the 2017-18 season was in December.

If you’re going to play the Raptors, getting them while they are 0-3 is a good time to get them!

Let’s go over .500, Knicks!

2020-21 Game Thread: Knicks @ Cavaliers

After surprisingly kicking the Bucks’ ass the other night, the Knicks head to Cleveland to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have started the season a surprising 3-0.

We all thought that the Knicks would be 1-3 after tonight, but I think 1-3 would now be a disappointment. A .500 record through four games would be pretty freakin’ awesome, right?

The Knicks are without early season standout, Alec Burks, so either Thibs is going to play an 8-man rotation or we’re going to see some Iggy or some Pinson or Harper tonight.

Let’s go, .500 Knicks!

2020-21 Game Thread: Knicks vs. Bucks

The Knicks host the really good Milwaukee Bucks tonight at the Garden, so it is very likely that the Knicks will be 0-3 after tonight, but hey, maybe they’ll shock the world!

Dennis Smith Jr. has a quad issue, so he’s out tonight. He joins Quickley (who’s day to day) and Toppin (who is out for the next six-seven games, which sucks). So we should see a lot of Frank Ntilinka tonight, but likely at the 2, as Thibs has so little faith in Frank’s PG prowess that he’s seriously running out Alec Burks as the backup point guard and Burks has been so bad as a point guard. But Burks has been playing well overall. The Knicks should be able to get a pick for him this season.

Randle, oddly enough, might be the starting point right now, although as the point forward.

The starting lineup remains the same.

Let’s go, Knicks!

2020-21 HOME OPENER Thread: Knicks vs. 76ers

As noted on Twitter earlier today, the last time that the Knicks beat the Sixers, it was the infamous Ndour game that dropped the Knicks in the lottery to the point where they got Frank instead of some of the other guys.

Let’s see if the Knicks can’t get the bad taste of that win out of their mouths with a new win!

Burks oddly still not starting.

Let’s go, Knicks!

NY Post: The Knicks’ biggest issue is rearing its ugly head again

From Zach Braziller:

The star of the Knicks’ preseason is already hurt. Two former lottery picks at the same position developed splinters on the first night. And their journeyman starter was unimpressive.

Point guard remains inarguably the Knicks’ No. 1 issue.

Immanuel Quickley, the first-round pick out of Kentucky who was already becoming a fan favorite after his strong performance in the final two exhibition games, suffered a hip pointer in the season-opening loss to the Pacers on Wednesday night and is listed as day-to-day. He was held out of a light workout Thursday after he felt tightness in his hip upon waking up.

“Hopefully, it won’t be long,” coach Tom Thibodeau said after Thursday’s practice.

Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr., 2017 lottery picks (Smith was chosen by the Mavericks) who are still trying to establish themselves, didn’t do enough to impress Thibodeau during the preseason to warrant being part of his 10-man rotation. Even without Quickley in the second half Wednesday, Thibodeau opted to use Alec Burks at the point over Ntilikina and Smith, neither of whom got their rookie contract extensions by Monday’s deadline.

“Everything is based on performance,” said Thibodeau, who eventually turned to Ntilikina in the closing minutes Wednesday night. “You have to make tough decisions, and we have. But I never write anyone off, so long as they continue to work, and when their opportunity comes, just be ready.”

Then there is Elfrid Payton, the veteran who got the nod over Quickley in the starting lineup and was a minus-15 against Indiana, committing more turnovers (five) than he had assists (three) or made field goals (three).

It is uncertain if Quickley will be able to play in the home opener against the 76ers on Saturday at the fan-less Garden. Before he got hurt, Quickley scored five points and had an assist and a steal, continuing his quality play. Thursday was just a walk-through and the Knicks are off Friday, so he will be using the time to get treatment. Quickley suffered the injury in the second quarter after getting hip-checked by Pacers forward Myles Turner.

They really ought to at least give Smith a chance, no? Can he seriously be THAT bad at practice?

And, on that note, a final poll before Christmas…

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

2020-21 SEASON OPENER Thread: Knicks @ Pacers

I was waiting for the Pacers to announce their starting lineup. Their new coach is even cagier than Thibs.

The Knicks open the season in Indiana, a team that finished with the #4 seed last year, despite playing without possibly their best player in the bubble.

The Knicks’ starting lineup is:

Elfrid Payton
Reggie Bull-LOCK
RJ Barrett
Julius Randle
Mitchell Robinson

Bullock is a weird choice over Burks, and I fear that it was sort of like, “Oh man, that Cleveland game was so good!” hangover, but at least Mitch is starting, thank goodness. He did everything they asked of him in the preseason, so to not start him would have been way uncool.

The Pacers starting lineep is:

Malcolm Brogdon
Victor Oladipo
TJ Warren
Domantas Sabonis
Myles Turner

It’s probably not good when each of the five starters for the other team could make a reasonable case for being better than anyone on the Knicks, but hey, at least their bench is not as good as their starters (although the Holiday brothers sure can shoot it).

The Knicks played the Pacers well last year, with one game being lost on a missed free throw by Randle, so I think that the Knicks can hang with the Pacers in this one. Maybe not win, but I think the Pacers will know that they were in a fight. And hey, maybe the Knicks COULD pull off the upset. Again, they did beat the Pacers once last year. It’s certainly possible that they could do so again.

Hopefully Immanuel Quickley plays well enough tonight to really start pushing the issue as to whether he should start going forward.

Hopefully Mitch and Noel form a dominant interior presence.

Hopefully Barrett has a good game.

Hopefully the Knicks look good, overall.

Welcome to the 2020-21 season, everyone! Let’s go, Knicks!

And as part of our all-poll content…

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

The “How Many Wins Will The Knicks Have In 2020-21?” Prediction Thread

Ah, the truest sign that time is actually passing, we have another “How Many Wins Will the Knicks have?” prediction thread, a Knickerblogger tradition as valued as never being willing to kick anything to the curb or wondering whether the true responsibility for a player making a bad play is held by the player who passed that player the ball (welcome back, Woody, we missed you!).

This dovetails nicely with our all-poll content.

As is my wont, I will bid high, and say that the Knicks will win 31 games. As we saw with Jeff Van Gundy, a good defense is like three point shooting in March Madness. It keeps you in games you otherwise should not win. RJ Barrett is looking good, Mitch is awesome and it’s possible that Quickley can help the Knicks offense be less terrible than normal. We shall see.

Also, please, Thibs, just freakin’ start Mitch. Please!

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

NY Post: Injury is derailing Austin Rivers’ grand Knicks plans

From Zach Braziller:

Austin Rivers talked a big game about playing for his father’s former team, saying he wanted to be part of something special and make the franchise “great again.”

Unfortunately for the combo guard, he has so far been very limited in that endeavor, and seems likely to miss the early part of the season with a right groin injury.

On Monday, coach Tom Thibodeau said the 28-year-old Rivers, whose father Doc is now coaching the 76ers, still has yet to return to practice, an ominous sign with the season set to begin Wednesday in Indiana against the Pacers. He missed all four preseason games and was hurt early on in training camp.

“The groin thing is still bothering him,” Thibodeau said.

There was some good injury news, though. Point guard Dennis Smith Jr. (left quad) and Frank Ntilikina (left Achilles), along with center Nerlens Noel (left knee), have returned from minor injuries. Forward Omari Spellman (right knee) is still out.

Thibodeau wouldn’t reveal his opening night starting lineup, but he did say that “we have a pretty good idea” who they will be, and what the rotation will look like.

“But that doesn’t mean it’s set in stone,” he said. “Obviously over the course of a season you need everyone, and particularly this year under these circumstances, quality depth is important and I feel that we have that.”

Julius Randle and RJ Barrett appear locks to start, and Elfrid Payton seems like a smart bet at the point despite rookie Immanuel Quickley’s impressive preseason. The other two spots remain uncertain.

I’m not much of an Austin Rivers admirer, but it’s still frustrating that this injury has lagged for so long.

Isn’t it weird that they’re, like, “Who will start at the 2?” Isn’t it clearly going to be Burks? Mitch should be a lock, too, but who the fuck knows with this team.

As part of our all-poll content, let’s everyone vote on who you think will be the starters alongside RJ and Randle on Wednesday night.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

NY Post: RJ Barrett making it look ‘easy’ in promising Knicks start

From Marc Berman:

After working with his trainer in Southern California, Barrett said he’s tinkered with shot technique, moving his right hand more to the side of the ball to get a more fluid release.

“I was working with Drew Hanlen over the summer, we changed it up a little bit, tweaked a couple of things,’’ Barrett said. “It’s been good so far. We’ve just got to keep working on it, get reps.”

There were rumblings the Knicks’ previous coaching staff was concerned that Barrett, who wore a pink suit on draft night, was too Hollywood and not enough of a gym rat as a rookie.

There’s a new Kith/Knicks digital advertisement showing Barrett working on his shooting in a late-night session with a security guard falling asleep while waiting for the workout to end. It’s not fictional.

Asked the best part of Barrett’s preseason, coach Tom Thibodeau said, “Probably the way he practiced. He set a great example for everyone. If he continues to work that way he’ll continue to improve.”

According to sources, the Knicks coaching staff has a new vision for Barrett, turning him more into a small forward than shooting guard so as to give him less early-possession ballhandling responsibilities.

Former coach David Fizdale, stunningly, gave Barrett the opening-night start at point guard last season and it backfired.

That won’t happen Wednesday in Indiana. Both Alec Burks or Reggie Bullock can play alongside Barrett as the shooting guard.

New guards coach Johnnie Bryant, who turned Donovan Mitchell into a superstar, has made an impact on Barrett, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

“I just thought his rim reads were terrific,’’ Thibodeau said. “His all-round play. His ball pressure [on defense] got a lot better as time went on. Offensively he scored a number of different ways — transition, cutting without the ball, off the dribble, catch and shoot.’’

This is partially why I’d be thrilled to be done with Perry, as he was part of the “braintrust” that looked at RJ Barrett and saw a shooting guard who they needed to surround with power forwards. I still can’t get over how dumb it was to play Barrett as a guard last year. The dude clearly is not a guard. He’s a forward. He could be a very good forward, so just let him be a forward. Surround him with other shooters. It really isn’t hard.

Barrett played very well in the preseason. He looked very comfortable out there, hitting his free throws and getting to the basket with ease. He still needs to shoot better from three (he was awful in the preseason), but even without a three-pointer, he has shown enough in these past four preseason games for me to be really excited about him making a big step forward this thing. It’s one of the things that I’m most looking forward to about this Knicks team (#1 being all of those amazing plays that Mitch makes).

Just give us some hope, RJ! That’s all we want! And Leon Rose and Thibs actually seem prepared to give us hope. I am very pleased with the Knicks at this moment.

NY Post: Mitchell Robinson looked ‘terrific’ as Knicks starter

From Peter Botte:

Nerlens Noel, part of the Knicks’ ever-expanding Kentucky connection, started the first two preseason games at center before sitting out the next two with a sore left knee.

Mitchell Robinson said earlier in camp that he doesn’t mind coming off the bench, but the third-year big man moved into the starting lineup in Noel’s absence the past two games and was particularly “terrific,” according to coach Tom Thibodeau, in Friday’s 36-point rout of the Cavaliers at the Garden.

The 22-year-old Robinson scored eight points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked four shots without committing a personal foul, and the Knicks were a whopping plus-46 in the 27 minutes he was on the floor.

“He was terrific. The same thing can be said for him about the way he’s been practicing and working and getting there early and staying late, practicing well, concentrating,” Thibodeau said after the game. “I thought he played as hard as he could.

“He was on the floor, he was everywhere. He was on the rim, knocking shots away, rebounding the ball, sprinting into screens, putting pressure on the rim. Did a ton of good things. We’ll take a look at the film and keep pushing him to get better.”

On Dec. 1, Thibodeau said Robinson “has a long way to go,” adding the Knicks were “very fortunate to have Noel” as a complement and mentor.

Robinson has come off the bench in 101 of his 127 career games, including only six starts last season.

Still, the 7-footer set an NBA record in 2019-20 with a .742 field goal percentage, and he’s finished second and seventh in the league in blocked shots in his first two seasons, respectively.

So let’s do this as part of our all-poll content…

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.