The Portland Trail Blazers are in desperate need of a win after dropping their last four games, and will have to give it all they’ve got on the road against a gritty New York Knicks team.
The Blazers will again be without the services of Damian Lillard, as he is forecasted to be sidelined until Nov. 29 at the earliest.
The Knicks will be refreshed in front of their home crowd after a five-game road trip that saw them carve out a respectable 3-2 record, notching encouraging victories over the surprise Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder as well as the Denver Nuggets.
The Blazers have had a couple of things holding them back as of late. For one, they’ve reverted back to a man-heavy defense and they’re a bit too complacent with the three-ball. On the other end, their constant and irking inability to contest shots from outside has burned them, where their opponents don’t necessarily lead the league in percentage or volume from beyond the arc, but make timely triples that kill and swing momentum.
Blazers vs. Knicks - November 25, 2022 - 4:30 p.m. PT
How to Watch: Root Sports Plus, MSG, NBA League Pass
Blazers Injuries: Damian Lillard (out), Keon Johnson (out), Gary Payton II (out), Drew Eubanks (game time decision)
Knicks Injuries: Derrick Rose (game time decision), Mitchell Robinson (game time decision), Cam Reddish (game time decision)
SBN Affiliate: Posting and Toasting
What to Watch For:
- Maybe Jacking Up From 3 Might Work?: New York allows the most three-point attempts (39.4) and the second-most makes (14.1) per game from their opponents. While they hold teams to a decent 35.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc, the fact that teams are so encouraged to let it fly against them, especially when they don’t bring the same energy on offense — where they are tenth in attempts per game (34.5) — shows that there must be a reason for this. When watching the Knicks play against the Boston Celtics a couple weeks back, they gave up their third-most points allowed (133) and let Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown go 12-24 from beyond the arc. They also let the Celtics bench run amuck with triples, making 10 on 18 attempts. With high volume shooters and scorers like Jerami Grant and Anfernee Simons, who have sweet spots on multiple parts of the floor, it would be convenient for head coach Chauncey Billups to show his team film of this game. Additionally, instilling confidence in his second-unit gunners like Nasir Little and Shaedon Sharpe will do well to get them going again, after a pedestrian string of performances recently.
- Exploit the Fair Exchanges: New York are only one of four teams in the association allowing 12 or more offensive rebounds. They are however, very hellacious on the glass on their end, where they are only one of seven teams corralling 12 or more offensive rebounds per game. Especially if the ever-so-active Mitchell Robinson is cleared to play tonight, Rip City will need to box out hard in order to be successful, and burn them on their own defensive glass. Also, the Knicks love to foul — a top 10 team in that category. But, they also draw the eighth-most personal fouls per contest. Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson are bulldogs who love to lower their shoulder into defenders, and take the ball to the rack. Portland will need to get big, and stay disciplined, to keep the Knickerbockers off of the foul line, and in the bonus.
- Return to the Zone: This is a perfect opportunity for coach Billups to reinstitute his zone. It is such a convenient time to do so, as the Knicks are filled with left handed players. Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, Jalen Brunson; all three of their best scorers are lefties, and are enamored with going in that direction. In the playoffs two years ago, the former two were exploited for this, and to much avail. While this was two seasons ago, and both players have grown, it can still make their big three very uncomfortable if they shift their zone to shade right, and anticipate the passing lanes.
What Others are Saying
- Zach Braziller of the New York Post seems optimistic about the Knicks after a pleasant 3-2 road trip, but was pragmatic about the team’s woes at home:
After allowing 145 points to the Thunder a week ago this past Sunday, they played with more energy on the defensive end and performed very well in the fourth quarter of the three wins, despite several players battling the flu. Young players such as Jericho Sims and Quentin Grimes showed glimpses of promise, while Jalen Brunson continued to thrive in his first year as a Knick, closing the trip with a brilliant 34-point, nine-assist masterpiece.
Now the 9-9 Knicks have to build on that excursion and defeat some quality teams at home, which they have been unable to do thus far. They have played better on the road overall, beating the likes of the Timberwolves, 76ers (albeit without Joel Embiid and James Harden), Jazz, Nuggets and Thunder, and performing well in hard-fought losses to the Grizzlies and Cavaliers. They will have gone four days without a game by the time tip-off arrives on Friday night against the Trail Blazers.
2. Deadspin’s Lee Escobedo voiced dissatisfaction for the Knicks and their recent losses:
After the team’s most recent loss to the Atlanta Hawks, something shifted. Whereas the losses to the Cavs and Bucks felt rational in that the Knicks lost to clearly better teams, the Knicks’ 23-point squandered lead against the Hawks felt terminal. In the third quarter, they were outscored 32 to 10. That blown lead tied the team’s third-largest blown lead in over 30 seasons. Almost as bad was the loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, to who they gave up 145 points. And yes, Julius Randle has been awful. He’s shot 46.7 percent from the field this season and 33.3 percent from three. Remember those mere six turnovers over the first four games? He’s now averaging more turnovers than assists. Yet, Thibodeau’s symbiotic addiction to Randle endures.
3. Geoff Magliocchetti of Sports Illustrated has Shaedon Sharpe as the player to watch against the Knicks, and hearkens back to hoops history to set a precedent for a potential breakout game:
Modern Madison Square Garden, at least from a professional basketball sense, is a place where many an opponent has enjoyed a breakout and there’d be no better place for Sharpe to make a statement. Current Portland reps see how valuable Sharpe can be as they seek to claw their way back from a brutal 55-loss campaign last season.
“I heard (Lillard) say it earlier this year, he was saying like, Shaedon is the type of talent that could take us over the edge of being a fringe playoff team into a full-blown playoff team fighting for a championship,” center Drew Eubanks said of Sharpe. ”I hadn’t seen Shaedon play … but after watching him play (his) first six games, and in preseason, I’m like, he’s super talented. He has the world at his fingertips.”