I am very excited to play Detroit in the garden tonight. It is our final game before the NBA All-Star game, so it is a week break for all of our players with the exception of Obi Toppin who will be participating in the dunk contest, and Julius Randle, who will be playing in his first ever All-Star game. The Knicks enter this game at a .500 record at 18-18 coming off of a loss to the Spurs two nights ago. The Pistons are 10-25 heading into tonight, which is the worst record in the Eastern conference and the second worst in the NBA currently. In their last ten games they are 4-6, and we hope to make it 4-7 tonight with a much needed win going into the break. We played the Pistons on the 28th of February, 109-90, a big win for us. We have four players on the injury list for tonight’s game. Mitchell Robinson is missing another game with a fractured right hand, something we knew. Derrick Rose will be questionable tonight due to COVID-19 protocols, and worst comes to worst we sit him tonight. We have two players listed as doubtful being Elfrid Payton with a injured hamstring, and Taj Gibson with an ankle injury. With four players out, our entire team needs to show up and ball out tonight for a win against an awful team. We have three keys to win tonight being defense, Immanuel Quickley, and playing our bench.
We’ve been decent at best lately on defense besides our best defensive rating at the moment, but keeping the Pistons between 90-105 points is crucial in a win, and if we can accomplish this it should be an easy win without offense. Immanuel Quickley is crucial with Derrick Rose out, and he will get a large margin of playing time, something that is a smart move across the board. He is averaging a quiet 12.6 PPG but is only playing 18.9 minutes per game, so playing him 20+ tonight is a good chance of a 20+ point performance. He is also coming off of a 26 point performance against the Spurs, where he only played 29 minutes, something that is a very big accomplishment not every NBA player can do. Lastly, our bench needs to show up. When I say our bench, I’m talking about Alec Burks, Obi Toppin, Frank Ntilikina (who may start again tonight), Austin Rivers due to us being a point guard down, and maybe even Kevin Knox. A few big ones of that that I’d like to focus in on is Austin Rivers and Obi Toppin.
Trying out Austin Rivers going into the break is a win-win situation. If he plays well, we can see how we can put him back in the rotation and see how he does against a god awful team in Detroit. Worst comes to worst, he plays awful and we can evaluate a potential trade with him. Obi Toppin is another story. With a lack of centers he can play between 4-5 tonight, and deserves 15+ minutes tonight. Evaluating our young talent is a big move tonight, and if we lose it will not be from doing this, it will be because we are getting outplayed. Thibs, please play some of the guys not getting recognition, and let’s see we got in what I see as a “must win” game. Game is 7:30 PM EST tonight, and as always, go Knicks!