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Portland Trail Blazers vs. New York Knicks Preview

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Portland looks to knock down the Knicks after big wins for both teams.

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NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at New York Knicks Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (23-17) vs. New York Knicks (10-29)

January 7th, 2019 - 7:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Moe Harkless (probable), Evan Turner (probable)
Knicks injuries: Kristaps Porzingis (out), Mitchell Robinson (out), Frank Ntilikina (day-to-day), Isaiah Hicks (day-to-day)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Posting and Toasting

The Blazers take on the Knicks at home following a solid win over the Houston Rockets 110-101. In the game against the Rockets, lock-down defense from Al-Farouq Aminu and Evan Turner prevented James Harden from breaking out. Jusuf Nurkic also had a solid night, logging a double-double (25 points, 15 rebounds), as did Damian Lillard (17 points, 12 assists). CJ McCollum’s shooting made a resurgence with 24 points.

The Knicks come to Portland fresh off of a victory against the Los Angeles Lakers 119-112, ending an 8-game losing streak. Tim Hardaway Jr. led the Knicks offense with 22 points. Trey Burke contributed another 16. Emmanuel Mudiay added 15 points and seven rebounds for the Knicks, but it was the performance of Enes Kanter, who scored half of his 16 points down the stretch, that gave the Knicks the spark they needed to beat the Lakers.

What to watch for

  • Defense leading into offense. Portland did so well on the back end of Saturday’s game against the Rockets because they played intense defense down the stretch. It stifled James Harden and led to some key possessions in transition for the Blazers. In turn, this kept up the team’s momentum, which they have struggled with this season.
  • Be wary of the veterans. The Knicks have a crucial core of veterans, and they have shown they can step up to get the win. Versus the Lakers, veterans Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke, and Enes Kanter all contributed on offense, with 22, 16, and 16 points respectively. Expect them to be even more reinvigorated after their victory.
  • Home, sweet home. The Blazers are in the middle of a much-needed 5-game homestand. Portland’s travel schedule is always one of the league’s toughest; being able to sleep in their own beds should rejuvenate the Blazers for Monday’s game, and perhaps give them a jump-start into the second half of their season.

What they’re saying

Reporter Chris Iseman of USA Today explains how Knicks star Enes Kanter will not be traveling with the team to London in late January:

Kanter said after the team’s 119-112 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night at Staples Center that it would be too dangerous for him to make the trip because Turkish spies might try to murder him.

Kanter, a native of Turkey, is an outspoken critic of president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan issued an international warrant for Kanter’s arrest last May, and Kanter’s passport had already been revoked by the Turkish government.

Kanter was detained for hours at a Romanian airport the last time he traveled overseas.

Over on Posting and Toasting, Alex Wolfe outlines how the Knicks have struggled to defend the pick-and-roll:

It turns out that defense is a team effort. Hard to believe, I know. While Kornet is an improvement over Kanter, asking him to defend Rudy Gobert and an attacking guard at the same time is too much to ask. The Knicks started the game with Kornet in drop coverage, and the Jazz attacked…and attacked…and attacked.

But a strategy is only as effective as its execution. While putting Kornet in situations where he needs to backpedal and make an athletic play is not ideal for his skill set, even with a more nimble big — like Noah Vonleh — drop coverage is doomed to fail when the weak side help doesn’t do its job in tagging the roll man.

Marc Berman at the New York Post reveals how the injury of Frank Ntilikina has allowed a veteran presence to shine:

With Ntilikina probably out for at least the final two games of the six-game trip — which continues Monday at Portland then at Golden State on Tuesday — Trey Burke is again the backup point guard.

Burke got the call after being an afterthought since returning from his sprained knee eight games ago — four of which he did not play in. In the one game he played on this six-game trip, in Utah, he came on with seven minutes left in the blowout and made his first four shots. Then he sat in Denver.

In Los Angeles, Burke was instrumental in the victory with his sneaky drives to the basket — finishing with 16 points in 19 minutes, making 6 of 13 shots. Because Burke is a free agent, there’s a tendency to overlook his value and prioritize developing Ntilikina.