Knicks Look To Avoid 10th Straight Loss, Taking On Melo And The Trail Blazers

Photo from Chuck Cook- USA Today Sports and Blazers Edge

The New York Knicks (4-19) will be on the road, facing the Portland Trail Blazers (9-15) at 10:00pm Eastern Time. The Trail Blazers are listed as 9 point favorites, headlined by Carmelo Anthony playing against the Knicks for the first time since reentering the NBA.

Starting Lineups- With 2 Attributes That Will Be Impactful Tonight (Strength, Weakness)

PositionNew York KnicksPortland Trail Blazers
PGFrank Ntilikina (defense, scoring)Damian Lillard (scoring/facilitating, turnovers)
SGRJ Barrett (driving, shooting)C.J. McCollum (shooting, defense)
SFMarcus Morris Sr. (3 point shooting, fouling)Kent Bazemore (defense, shooting)
PFJulius Randle (interior scoring, turnovers)Carmelo Anthony (scoring, field goal %)
CTaj Gibson (rebounding, shooting)Hassan Whiteside (rebounding/shot blocking, fouling)

Matchup Of The Night

Julius Randle vs. Carmelo Anthony

Knick legend, Carmelo Anthony, will be playing against his former team for the first time in almost two years. Anthony has been a major contributor since being picked up by Portland, averaging 15.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in 31.8 minutes of action. Melo owns a solidified usage of 24.5% and is playing at the highest Pace of his career (100.87). Although Anthony is not the dominant scorer he once was, he clearly is still one of the better scorers in the NBA. Anthony’s struggles have been in shooting consistency (40.8% from the floor), turnovers (averaging 2.1 per game), and fouling (averaging 3.3 fouls per game). Julius Randle will look to attack Melo early and often in this matchup, using “bulldozer finesse” as Clyde would say. Mike Miller’s adjustments to the offense have opened up more space for Randle to work with when he drives to the rim. Miller has emphasized “playing downhill,” when referring to the Knicks offense. When Julius has room to operate and can drive with some force, he becomes a freight train. Randle draws a team high, 4.1 fouls per game. Melo will likely resort to fouling Randle on drives/post ups and if/when Hassan Whiteside (premier shotblocker), provides help defense to stop Randle; Julius will look to facilitate (averaging 3.4 assists per game).

Inactives

Knicks- Wayne Ellington and Reggie Bullock

Trail Blazers- Rodney Hood

Key Statistics

  1. Portland is 12th in the NBA in three-point % (36.2%). New York is 15th in the NBA, shooting 35.6% from three.
  2. The Knicks are 7th in the NBA in free throw attempts, 25.1 per game. The Trail Blazers are 22nd in the NBA, shooting 21.9 free throw attempts per game.
  3. Portland is shooting 81.7% from the charity stripe, 2nd in the NBA. New York is shooting 67.5% from the foul line, last in the NBA.
  4. The Knicks average 12.1 offensive rebounds per game, 1st in the NBA. The Trail Blazers average 36.1 defensive rebounds per game, 9th in the NBA.
  5. Portland is 29th in the NBA in assists (20.1 per game). New York is last in the NBA in assists (20 per game).
  6. The Trail Blazers are 3rd in the NBA, only turning the ball over 13.5 times per game. The Knicks are 12th in the NBA, averaging 14.9 turnovers per game.
  7. The Knicks average 8 steals per game, 11th in the NBA. The Trail Blazers average 6 steals per game, last in the NBA.
  8. Portland is 4th in the NBA in shot blocking, averaging 6.2 blocks per game. New York is 20th in the NBA, averaging 4.8 blocks per game.
  9. The Trail Blazers are last in the NBA, commiting 23.5 personal fouls per game. The Knicks are 29th in the NBA, commiting 23.3 personal fouls per game.
  10. The Trail Blazers are 9th in the NBA in Pace (102.72). The Knicks are 28th in the NBA in Pace (98.65).

Keys To Winning

New York’s main concerns should be contesting the 3 ball and limiting their fouls tonight. The Trail Blazers are led by Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum who are shooting 35% and 38.7% from three respectively, while averaging a combined 17.8 attempts from downtown per game. The Knicks are 29th in the NBA, allowing teams to shoot 38.8% from three. In Mike Miller’s first game as the Knicks Head Coach, the Knicks allowed the Indiana Pacers to shoot 42.9% from three. New York, who is 29th in the NBA in personal fouls per game, must refrain from fouling tonight as the Trail Blazers shoot a fantastic 81.7% from the foul line. On offense, the Knicks played with more spacing, better ball movement, and improved shot selection in their first game under Miller. The Knicks will look to repeat that, but shoot a higher percentage than the 40.6% they shot from the floor. Frank Ntilikina and Elfrid Payton will draw the daunting task of guarding Damian Lillard tonight. Both players will need to play air-tight defense from deep and rely on help if he drives past them. Mitchell Robinson will need to have a major impact in this game, to slow down Lillard and Whiteside.

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