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Portland Trail Blazers at New York Knicks Preview

After a roasting of the Washington Wizards, Damian Lillard looks to keep the heat on in the City That Never Sleeps.

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NBA: New York Knicks at Portland Trail Blazers Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (11-5) at New York Knicks (4-13)

November 20, 2018 - 4:30 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Moe Harkless (out), SG Seth Curry (out)
Knicks injuries: Kristaps Porzingis (out), Lance Thomas (out), Courtney Lee (out), Mario Hezonja (game-time decision)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA TV
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Posting and Toasting

Portland’s six-game road trip got back on track on Sunday, with the Blazers taking care of business in the nation’s capital. The starters put up some mind-boggling numbers, led by Damian Lillard’s 40 points, and dismissed the Washington Wizards 129-119. On the other end of the spectrum are the Knicks, who are in the middle of a five-game losing streak and have won just twice in their last eleven games. Star big man Kristaps Porzingis is out until at least Christmas. The team had no answer for the Orlando Magic in their last game, falling 131-117 in Orlando.

What to watch for

  • New York’s Crafty Vets. With up-and-coming young players like Frank Ntilikina and Mitchell Robinson, you would expect the young guns to get the lion’s share of minutes on a rebuilding squad. Instead, the Knicks are powered by vets Trey Burke, Enes Kanter, and Tim Hardaway Jr., their leading scorer. Even if the young players start, like they did against Orlando, expect the vets to carry the load for most of the game.
  • Do Not Fall Into The Trap. The Knicks are on a losing skid, and Portland is trying to build momentum. This is exactly the point where the Blazers cannot fall into the trap of assuming their talent will just blow New York out of Madison Square Garden. Focusing on New York’s guards and holding the throttle until the very end needs to be the plan.
  • Re-Energize The Bench. After a red-hot start to the year, the Portland bench has fallen off over the last five games. The starters staked the Blazers to an early 20-point lead against Washington, only to watch the bench give almost all of it back within just four minutes. Zach Collins needs to stay out of foul trouble and Nik Stauskas needs to recover his shooting stroke to let Lillard and CJ McCollum rest longer.

What they’re saying

MMiranda of Posting and Toasting writes how head coach David Fizdale is impacting the young New York squad:

Some say there’s a bit of a used car salesman whiff to Fizdale. That’s an easy charge to make when someone’s job description is more about the pitch than the product, easier still when that pitch man is shrewd, clever, slick. But the first proof of change is the appearance of change. Under Fizdale, front office mandate in hand, things literally look different.

Marc Berman of the New York Post mentions how the Knicks brought in former Golden State Warriors center Clifford Ray to mentor rookie Mitchell Robinson:

Add another former NBA player enlisted by the coaching staff to tutor Robinson — and other young Knicks. Ray attended Knicks practice in Orlando on Saturday to work with the big men and then watched the Knicks’ 131-117 loss as unofficial coach.

Rob Wolkenbrod of Daily Knicks wonders if Frank Ntilikina is better as a starter or off the bench:

Since Ntilikina and Damyean Dotson went to the bench for Emmanuel Mudiay and Kevin Knox, the Knicks have allowed 129.3 points per game. It’s the most any NBA team has allowed in the past three games, with the Chicago Bulls at 118.7 points next.