Game Thread: Knicks vs. Atlanta

Hello again. Didn’t I just write a piece about the Knicks and Atlanta? I did. The Knicks lost. Maybe I shouldn’t be writing this piece given the previous outcome, and come to think of it, the next two games the team plays are contests with the Hawks. Game one is at home and a couple of days later the second game is in Atlanta. Might I be double or triple jinxing the Knicks in these match ups? Meh.

I’m going to write to you about talent. Talent is a word used to discuss and describe individual players, and also to discuss and describe entire teams. It’s a word that’s used in the absolutist sense like, “He’s very talented,” or, “That team lacks talent.” Talent is really a more fluid concept when you break it down. Lou Amundson has just as much talent as Lebron James in a given moment. He might run the break, cut to the hoop, and catch an alley oop. In that moment, Lou Amundson maximized his coordination, explosiveness, and fluidity to execute an elegant and powerful basketball maneuver. The chief difference between Lou Amundson and Lebron James, in that regard, is that Lebron James executes such maneuvers on a consistent and regular basis, while Lou Amundson may do it on special occasions, like when you’re Great Uncle Albert suddenly busts out a series of highly coordinated dance moves at the family reunion after one too many sangrias. It’s in that 90-year old body somewhere, but it’s not meant to be a regular feature of his life….for everyone’s safety.

The Knicks, as a team, demonstrate this maddening tendency a lot. They have players up and down the roster who possess the talent to execute delicious and savory basketballing, but few who can put together a whole game of the stuff, let alone a stretch of games. I’d point to Arron Afflalo as exhibit A in this maddening aspect. Afflalo once averaged around 18 points a game for the Orlando Magic, something Wally Szczerbiak regularly likes to point out. It’s the kind of terrible flirtation that does a disservice to Afflalo as much as to the fans who cheer for him. It was wonderful that he managed to tap his talent that consistently one year. He was really in the flow. It’s also something he’s never been able to duplicate again, nor should anyone expect him to. Afflalo is the type of player who can get hot and drop a bunch of lovely 20-30 point games in a row, but is doomed to disappear from time to time. Looking at player game logs can sometimes illustrate the level of consistency that defines the truly dominant players in the league, even when they’re second fiddles. A guy who you can count on for 12-15 points a game every night is sometimes better than the guy who can win you three in a row, but fail to show up the next home stand.

The Knicks are really a club of Arron Afflalos. There’s a tantalizing amount of talent spread around the team as it’s presently constructed, but very little consistently. Derrick Williams can go on a roll as he did against Detroit and take over a game. He might also go two weeks without another such outburst. Kyle O’Quinn might put together three or four straight games of tough defense, effective rebounding, and beardy intimidation, but he also forces Fisher to pull him when he starts whipping the ball around with his no look passes and risky outlets. Galloway started the season red hot and reminded us of his inspiring potential as an undrafted gem, but he’s been bad for the bulk of the season and he’s really running on hope in the Knicks rotation more than anything else. You see a glimmer of his finishing at the rim, transition defense, or nifty entry passing, but you also see him flop around quite a bit and miss wide open shots. I could go on…

The Hawks are a top ball club precisely because they have several key players who bring it every night. They bring effort, intelligence, and consistent results. Horford and Millsap are consistent and reliable. Teague has become much more consistent in most areas of the game, and while he’s struggling at the moment, Kyle Korver has been remarkably consistent from three point range in his career. He just keeps hitting them, game after game after game. Clockwork.

I would argue that the Hawks are nearly as consistent, either individually or as a team, as the elite clubs in the NBA. They’re good enough, smart enough, and consistent enough for people to like them, just like Stuart Smalley. Yeah…I’m going with that. The Hawks are the Stuart Smalley of the NBA. The Knicks play Jekyll and Hyde as a team for stretches, and the main reason is that they’re a team of Jekyll and Hyde talents. That’s not something that the team is going to solve during 2015-16, so it would seem that we’re doomed to watch a lot of games like the Chicago affair. Awful for stretches. Transcendent for stretches. Not enough in the end to beat good teams. The key for the Knicks is to be able to sustain their talent for longer than a couple of quarters, and then sustain that game-long excellence for several games in a row. They’re going to disappear for a week at a time, but you want to see them maximize what they have and knock off a few really good teams in the process. Right now, standing in front of them, is a back to back against a good, consistent, talented group of Hawks and the Knicks better get their focus on quick, or this is going to be very, very ugly.

Keep your fingers crossed friends. Let’s go Knicks.

Game Thread: Knicks @ Hawks

In the later-1990s, I spent quite a bit of time working on the road. I was fortunate to spend those travels with a very good friend, and fellow Knicks fan. Whenever possible, the two of us would take in an NBA game whenever we had a bit of time to kill in a basketball city somewhere far away. While in Atlanta one year, we were lucky to be in town while the Knicks were paying a visit. In our youthful exuberance, we strolled around the arena proclaiming loudly that Phillips Arena was now “Madison Square Garden South.” To make a long story short, the Knicks ended up losing that game on a missed free throw by Allan Houston in the final seconds. The game would have been tied. I’ve always carried that memory around with me as a symbol of basketball hubris. Don’t tempt the basketball gods, as Phil Jackson might say.

We’re nearly 20 years beyond that fateful moment, but I still dread the Knicks’ tilts against the Hawks. This is especially true with the new Spursy approach the franchise has taken in the Mike Budenholzer era. It’s a team of no-frills players, who play a mistake free brand of hoops. They shoot the ball extremely well from both 2-point and 3-point range and they are relatively good at protecting the ball. On the other hand, they are the worst offensive rebounding team in the NBA and the 2nd worst rebounding team overall. If the Knicks are going to beat them tonight, they’re going to have to limit second opportunities and get them to make a few more mistakes than is typical for the Hawks.

One of the keys, which harkens back to our Melo-less loss to the Cavs, is to keep moving the ball on offense. The Knicks can’t forget the hot hand, whether it’s Porzingis (especially if it’s Porzingis) or Afflalo or a guy who’s typically lower on the totem pole. Keep that ball moving, find the guy who’s rolling, and play more mistake free basketball than the Hawks. The Knicks play these guys three times in very short order and it would be VERY nice to take 2 of 3 from them somehow. This is a good test for the Knicks to see how well our own brand of basketball can hold up in the face of a very smart and crafty opponent, who gain quite a bit from their coaching.

Let’s get this one fellas. May the Force be with you.

Quick Recap: Knicks vs. Sixers

Boom. It was really no contest from the start and the Knicks destroyed a totally overmatched Sixers team that shouldn’t be this bad, as bad as they are. How many airballs did they shoot?

Kristaps was a little quiet again, but Afflalo roared like a lion. I’ll have a more substantial recap up for you in the morning, mainly because I would hate to pile on the Sixers after an ass kicking like that.

Enjoy the glow of victory…it comes from our proximity to .500 friends.

2015-16 Game Thread: Knicks vs. Sixers

I sighed deeply as I sat down to write this game preview. #TrusttheProcess is such a depressing affair from my point of view. I don’t think I know how my other Knickerbuddies feel about the direction of the Sixers and their Sam Hinkie-led “process,” but I’ve been a pretty vocal critic for a couple of years now. Human beings are not assets. Their talents are not resources. The aspirations that players have for themselves are not things to channel into a basketball machine, like some sort of burnable fuel. At the risk of getting too Marxist about all this, the more you treat basketball like some great machine, the more the players become cogs. The more you plot the direction of your franchise in analytics, at the expense of the art form that is basketball, the more players become big data. Players aren’t born as data points, any more than the rest of us. We’re able to turn the things that happen on the court into a fascinating set of atomic principles to parse and analyze and debate. In a sense, this scientific turn is good for the sport and good for fandom everywhere. Sports are myth, but they are also science. Both can coexist harmoniously as long as there is balance.

The Sixers are not about balance. They are about cold, hard, ruthless probability. They are about a machine-like approach to franchise building that more resembles an attempt to game the system than to respect the spirit of the sport. The Sixers are playing meta-basketball…a game about the game. They are playing derivatives trading. They’re too big too fail.

Superficially, the Sixers have taken a novel approach that seems just clever enough to be genius. From my vantage point, the approach is just clever enough to outsmart itself. It’s an approach that has fallen in love with itself, not despite its flaws, but because of them. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince us he didn’t exist. #TrusttheProcess

Things might look a little different over there if the Sixers had been able to draft Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. There’s still another story to be told about the process, given the possibility that the Sixers could wind up with their own high pick and the Lakers’ lottery pick in 2016. Adding Dario Saric, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and some other young, stud draftee to a pool of assets that includes Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor is a pretty stocked cupboard. It’s also a mish-mash of players who mainly do the same thing at varying degrees of ability. In the end, it could work.

It’s not so much that the plan isn’t “smart.” It’s more that the plan could be unnecessarily painful. Once you have all those assets, and they don’t fit neatly together, you have to trade them and bring in players who fit together. Presumably, you’d want to build around Ben Simmons if you were lucky enough to draft him. Would you trade Okafor? Noel? Embiid? What can you get for those guys? Is there any guarantee that the mix you create will work out? How many more years will it take? What if one of them gets injured? What if there are other teams around you who build better teams? Now, these are all questions that can be asked fairly of every team in the league….which is precisely the point. There are dozens and dozens of team-building strategies to follow. The Sixers are choosing the riskiest and most painful way possible. They’re literally playing the lottery. They’re also taking something inherently human and beautiful and turning it into a cold, calculated affair. They have lost their balance.

The league has become concerned enough that the “process” isn’t playing out in reality as well as it has on paper. The annual tanking in Philadelphia has hurt league revenue and teams have become upset. Okafor’s high profile brushes with the law early in this season have contrasted poorly with the performances of Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis on the main stage. Joel Embiid is better on Twitter than he is on the court, thanks to another injury and another walking boot. Dario Saric looks great in Turkey, but that’s a long way from Philadelphia. Nerlens Noel has actually regressed offensively. Enter Jerry Colangelo and Mike D’Antoni.

The last time the Knicks faced Philadelphia, Jahlil Okafor was serving part of his suspension for assaulting a heckler on the street. The team was 1-15, coming off a win against the Lakers, and things were chugging along as badly as planned. On December 7th, the Sixers league announced the hiring of Jerry Colangelo to right the sinking ship. On that same day, the team lost to the Spurs by a score of 119-68. In case you struggle with math so complex, that’s a 51 point margin. In the interim, Philadelphia has also hired Mike D’Antoni to serve as “associate” head coach to Brett Brown, after extending Brown a couple more years. The contract extension is the only fair thing to do for Brown, who’s tanked any hope of being over .500 as a head coach in the NBA and suffered through some of the most painful marathons of despair a competitor can bear to endure. The Sixers, 16 days after the Knicks dropped them to 1-16, have gone 0-7.

Tonight’s contest is a classic trap game [cue Admiral Akbar gif]. The Knicks have played some feisty basketball of late, and the team seems to have broken out of its funk with a combination of better defense and some nifty ball-sharing on offense. The Sixers are miserable, but they’ll have Okafor on the floor this time around and they have a bit more health in their point guard rotation. I’m a Kendall Marshall fan, and I think he’s the kind of guy Mike D’Antoni can turn into an effective player. I doubt any of that is going to happen soon enough for tonight’s game, but the Sixers…in theory…ought to be better than the team the Knicks faced a couple of weeks ago. But, that’s the Sixers in a nutshell, isn’t it? Better in theory than in practice, and always better tomorrow than today.

Recap: Knicks 108, Nets 91

I often find that a night to sleep on a game is a wonderful thing. The Quick Recap is a way to download fast impressions of things that have just transpired, but the perspective of a good night’s sleep is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to writing this sort of thing.

I’m going to start with Melo, since he continually gets buried in the Porzingis mania. He was great last night. I wrote that it didn’t feel as though he was as sharp as he’s capable of being, which I still believe is true, but it’s more an acknowledgment of how good he can be when he’s really rolling than the quality of play he demonstrated last night. He was just excellent. His best games this young season have been played within the flow of the offense. Mike Breen and Hubie Brown called it “deferring” to teammates during the telecast last night, but I don’t particularly care for that word. He will never defer. He picks and chooses his spots better within this offense, and with greater trust in better teammates. It seems as though he can finally play the kind of chess he wants to play. Melo is always going to go iso on some poor soul, way out on the wing. He’s going to burn clock and take a poorly conceived, contested jumper or two every game. For Melo, those are heat checks. They’re the way he knows whether or not he’s going to erupt for 40, 50, or 60 points. I won’t begrudge him those awful attempts because, frankly, I love it when he goes nuclear hot and puts on a show. The key is to limit those attempts and to move way from the hero ball in favor of getting the whole team involved. Woodson never really reined Melo in during his tenure. Jason Kidd was the only character in our Knicks story, who has kept him from trying to do it all at the expense of flow. Melo’s like a lot of prime time scorers in that the bar to trust his less gifted teammates is pretty high. The key to Melo’s success is to play the way he did yesterday, within the offense, and to avoid going 2015-16 Kobe Bryant on us. So far this season he’s done an amazing job. If he really gets it going the Knicks can be something special.

It’s getting to be a broken record, but what can’t Kristaps Porzingis do? He’s already playing at star level in the NBA and he’s barely 20-years old in his 20th game of the year. Several people were tweeting Kristaps’ “first 10/last 10″ splits after the game. In the 2nd ten games of his young career, he’s averaging 16.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.4 threes, and 2.9 blocks per game on .472/.500/.846 shooting. His NetRtg is something like +12 or 13. He’s doing that in 31 minutes a game, which is a very nice range for him at this point. Without digging too deeply this morning, my prior look into those sort of numbers tells me that no one has ever averaged anything like that for a season. It’s not to say Porzingis is going to average those numbers in his rookie season, but he’s trending up at this point and it’s magnificent. Despite constant reminders from incredulous broadcasters, it’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that he’s 1) barely 20, and 2) 7’3″ tall. The dunks and Dream Shakes are impressive and mind-blowing, but the play that makes me question everything I know about reality is the shot he hit yesterday from the corner with the shot clock winding down. He faded away over a defender, just inside the three point line, with the pressure of an expiring clock. Swish. He’s 20. He’s 7’3”. That sort of thing makes Patrick Ewing look like an amateur. No one expected Ewing to be such a good shooter when he burst on the scene in 1985, and he continued to hit baseline turnaround jumpers his entire career. It became his signature. Porzingis can do things from further out, with more fluidity and grace and he’s still wiping his nose like a toddler. It’s absurd. The early putback dunks put him on the map, but to me the amazing thing to watch is the looks on the opposing team’s faces when he does all of this. They stare blankly as if their mental operating systems have crashed. The Nets looked like that before the game started, to be fair, but whatever they thought Porzingis was going to be, they quickly realized it was far greater and existentially challenging. It’s like walking up to the edge of the Grand Canyon for the first time and having your mind begun to unravel as you process the depth and breadth of nature. If you’ve been there, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, it’s just like watching Kristaps Porzingis play and having it dawn on you that he’s 20 and 7’3″ tall.

I warned in the game thread that we weren’t likely to learn anything about either team in this game and I hold that to be true a morning later. The Knicks should be demolishing bad teams. They’re good enough at this point together that their approach and talent should be enough to feast on the lower part of the league. In post-game interviews the idea frequently emerges that these games are good for confidence building, but I’m a bit skeptical about how much truth lies behind those statements. Confidence is only a 20 point loss away from evaporating. I think the real value to these games is the trust that players learn to have in one another, and the bonding that comes from joy. It feels good to play basketball on nights like that, and it helps to remind you about why you love to do what you do. The season is a grind and you need some laughers to break the tedium. The Knicks don’t have much time to revel in the glory of their NYC bragging rights with a game against a tough-ish Milwaukee Bucks team tonight. The Bucks are the kind of team these Knicks have to beat every time out. They have a collection of talent, but it’s not quite coherent and it probably won’t be any time this season. It’s an amorphous sort of experiment in Milwaukee and they have some work to do before it takes shape. The Knicks have a couple of stars now and a budding team identity. They ought to be more coherent and they ought to take care of business. Winning a game like the game tonight, on the 2nd half of a back-to-back is important….way more important than devouring the Sixers and Nets like Galactus.

Quick Recap: Knicks 108, Nets 91

Gotta love a laugher. The Knicks jumped on the Nets from the tip and beat them into the ground like a good team should. The Nets were totally inept on all fronts, but this was the most well-balanced the Knicks have looked all season. All the parts were working well together. The stars starred. The role players rolled. The fans seemed unusually quiet, but that’s gonna happen sometimes.

I’m not sure you learn much from a game like that, except that these are two franchises headed in very different directions. The Knicks looked like a good, but flawed team during the difficult November schedule and they’re looking like the sort of team that beats up on the lower tier of the NBA en route to higher expectations. All is well in Knickdom tonight.

Melo had a very nice line, with 28 points on 9-18 shooting (5-8 from three), 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals in 31 minutes of play. As good as that is, I didn’t think he looked like the razor sharp Melo that we see when he’s really going well. Porzingis continues to defy all reasonable expectations for a 20-year old kid. He was quietly terrorizing the Nets from all angles, on both ends of the floor. Afflalo got cooking early and couldn’t really miss all game. Alan Hahn and Wally Szczerbiak have started to call that trio a “little three” in the way the Heat assembled a “Big Three” and you can see how Melfflalogis can be very tough on a lot of teams.

I want to give some love to Jose Calderon, who absolutely picked apart Brooklyn. He only took two shots, and missed them both, but he played very solid defense on the Nets motley crew of guards, and dropped 10 dimes in the process. Joe Johnson took a terrible cheap shot against Calderon and got ejected. I was watching the Mike Breen/Hubie Brown telecast on ESPN, and Breen seemed on board with the foul intent behind the elbow, but Hubie thought it was totally accidental. Not sure how a person sees that shot to the face as anything other than jackassery, but Joe Johnson got what he deserved. I enjoyed Lionel Hollins arguing with the officials in the wake of the ejection. That was nice.

The fourth quarter continues to be a little helter skelter for the team, which needs to be sorted out, but in this case you can chalk it up to blowout fatigue. There’s only so long you can kick your opponent before it gets boring and a little mean.

More in the official recap for you in the morn. Enjoy the smell of victory, Knickerbuddies.

2015-16 Game Thread: Knicks vs. Nets

During the summer of 2010, in the height of the Lebron James sweepstakes, the New Jersey Nets commissioned an enormous, building-sized billboard across from Madison Square Garden. The appearance of the billboard, featuring Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z, sparked some anger and frustration from people at the Garden and Knicks fans everywhere. The coverage of the publicity stunt in the Daily News reveals some interesting things floating in the air during that time:

Nets CEO Brett Yormark was surprised that the Knicks would be upset by such a move, while suggesting that he does not believe his team’s cross-river rivals are taking seriously the Nets’ bid to land James.

“When we went to our ad agency and said, ‘Give us some available billboards,’ they came to us with this location. Obviously we felt it was a bold statement but we decided to go for it,” said Yormark, one of at least five recruiters, including Prokhorov and Jay-Z, expected to make a pitch to James in Thursday morning’s wee hours. “If (the Knicks are) upset, they’re upset, but I can’t suspect they really are. They don’t think about us.”

The 225’x95′ sign sends to the Knicks a not-so-subtle message. More importantly for the Nets, they are hoping that it also convinces superstar free agents such as James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh that they are to be taken seriously in their effort to rebuild after last season’s 12-70 debacle.

The Nets have been on a marketing roll since the end of the season, making headlines by getting Prokhorov approved as their new owner, hiring charismatic coach Avery Johnson and trading Yi Jianlian to clear valuable cap space that can be used to lure James and one of his free-agent pals.

There’s just so much to deal with in that short string of quotes. In fact, it’s so much, I can’t begin to do it here. Only five years later, Brand Brooklyn has become wildly successful. The Nets…not so much. We all know the KG/Pierce plan that fell apart as fast as you can say “takin’ ovah.” We all know that “hiring charismatic coach Avery Johnson” turned out to be less than a fan favorite and hardly resulted in anything worth mentioning. James shunned Brooklyn. He shunned NY. In fact, he teamed up with the two players mentioned in that article to win a couple of titles in Miami. The Knicks and Nets both collapsed into an assortment of quivering piles of blubber, despite spots of fun along the way. The 12-70 season the Nets endured, just prior to the offseason of The Decision, seems quite familiar to Brooklyn fans at the moment. Knicks fans have fresh trauma from last season’s 17-65 apocalypse, but there’s no dreams (delusions) of Lebron James to sustain our hopes this time. That’s where this story diverges.

In 2010, both clubs were left holding flowers, like some sad, basketball bachelors. Each team attempted to quickly regroup by wheeling and dealing and trading picks. The Knicks got a broken Amare and a bored Bargnani, not to mention dealing the whole deck for Melo. The Nets mortgaged the future on two decrepit Celtics and traded away everything they had in their draft pick bank account in the process. Somewhere in that mess, however, the Knicks got a little smart and a lot lucky. While handing out our own first round picks like they were on fire, the league rules prevented us from dealing our 2015 pick. The 2015 draft, as blind luck would have it, seems like the deepest draft in a decade or more. Even after a 65-loss season, the Knicks dropped to 4th in that serendipitous lottery, and defied common ignorance to nab Kristaps Porzingis. If you ask Knicks fans about the kid, you’re likely to hear things about Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Arvydas Sabonis, Kevin Garnett, Thor – son of Odin, the Singularity, or some combination of all those things. The Knicks have also taken on a different, smarter personality as an organization, looking for solid pros and targeting under-the-radar assets. They’ve invested in developing a D-League team that means something. They’ve stashed a couple of young, promising European players. And so on…

The Nets are in a tough spot. In a different universe, I’d feel some sympathy for Brooklyn fans. That universe would start without an obnoxious billboard next to the Garden, and without the Brand Brooklyn blitz that’s swept the area with much bigger style than substance. Maybe it’s just me, but there are few things I dislike more than people who talk big, but have nothing to actually back up the talk. The marketing has outpaced the play, which is a very convenient metaphor for the geography of Downtown Brooklyn as well. That’s a different story. The Nets managed to nab a solid player in the first round. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is never going to be a star player, which is trouble considering the Nets’ draft pick situation, but he’s already shown that he can impact basketball games in a number of ways. He’s a pro. The franchise is in dire straits as it cruises towards an epically bad season without any drafts picks for as far as the eye can see, and plenty of more attractive destinations for the many free agents-to-be in the next couple of years.

Tonight’s game is hardly a referendum on any of those big picture things. It’s just another game in a long NBA season. The Knicks aren’t going to accomplish anything significant if they beat the Nets. The Nets aren’t going to halt their current death spiral if they manage to upset the Knicks. The impact of the contest is rather minimal in the end. The narratives that extend back to 2010, however, influence the way fans will react, and perhaps how the media will drum up interest in an otherwise pedestrian game. There is no rivalry, although there seems to be animosity. The feeling is more like two broke guys staring at each other and resenting the predicament through the person standing before them. I hate you because you remind me so much of myself. So what of the game?

If the Knicks lose this game, it will be because Carmelo Anthony continues to shoot inconsistently. It will be because he allows Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to slow him down in a way that seems confounding to the imagination. If the Knicks lose the game, it will be because Thaddeus Young is the type of athlete that could give our young Porzingis a rough night. Young is long, athletic, and can defend both the perimeter and post with some ability. He’s just good enough on both ends of the floor to exploit Kristaps and take him out of the game. If the Knicks lose, it will be because Joe Johnson finds his shot and Afflalo loses his. If the Knicks lose, it will be because Jarrett Jack feasts on the ham-like flesh of Jose Calderon and plays out of his head for 48 minutes. If the Knicks lose, it will be because Shane Larkin and his bench mates will outplay the Knicks’ subs. As I keep going, these scenarios get more far fetched, but you get the idea.

If the Knicks win, it will be because Carmelo Anthony relishes his match ups with guys like Hollis-Jefferson and puts guys like that in the spin cycle. Coming off an illness and a down game, Melo seems primed to go off for 40 points tonight. Everything would point in that direction. This is his town and he’s got a little something to prove, even if it’s just a little something. If the Knicks win, it will be because Kristaps Porzingis evolved into his next Pokemon form and leaves Thaddeus Young in a heap of sad desperation. There’s no Bargnani for our Latvian Superman to torment, so it’s got to be Thad. If the Knicks win it’s because they’re a better, deeper team. Really it’s that simple, despite all the narrative games we might play. I haven’t even mentioned the “Bropez” thing. I doubt that matchup will decide the outcome of the game in any meaningful way. It’s just quirky and funny.

This game is certain to be substance over style, both on and off the court. That’s the Knicks’ salvation and the Nets’ demise in a nutshell. Grab your popcorn. Let’s go Knicks.