Memphis Grizzlies (26-23) vs New York Knicks (25-27)
Friday, April 9th, 7:30 p.m. EST
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
The Memphis Grizzlies attempt for their 5th straight win Friday night in New York all by 10 pts or more. How will they fare in the mecca of basketball against the resurgent New York Knicks?
The Memphis Grizzlies come into New York playing well, winning their last 4 road games. The Grizzlies have won in Houston, Philadelphia, Miami, and Atlanta. The Grizzlies have enjoyed the emergence of Grayson Allen who has played fantastic given the opportunity. I will admit, I was not a big Grayson Allen guy. I did not think he would make it in the NBA, but he has turned out to be a solid contributor. Credit head coach Taylor Jenkins for putting Allen in situations where his deficiencies are hidden. Allen is an impressive 40% from 3 point range.
Memphis will be without Brendan Clarke, D’Anthony Melton, and Justice Winslow. They will need a solid contribution from rookie Desmond Bane. Bane has held his own so far shooting 44% from 3.
Ja Morant has put up quiet point totals during the win streak, averaging 12 points per game over the last 4 games. It is still a nice run from Morant. It is impressive to see him help his team win without just scoring the basketball. These 4 games have shown his development as a point guard, team leader, and bode well for Memphis as they vie for a play-in spot.
New York Knicks
The New York Knicks surprise season of redemption has hit a rough patch. They lost 2 games by 2 points to Atlantic division rivals, in which they both had the lead late in-game. We are seeing with the Knicks is a young team learning how to win when they are no longer being overlooked. Before, the Knicks were attractive for a gambler to back because I knew that many other teams would overlook them. This is no longer the case and they are suffering the consequences.
The Knicks are coached by Tom Thibodeau, who has a disdain for rookies in reserves.Thibs loves his starters and his veterans, especially Derrick Rose who he is now coaching in a 3rd NBA city. Rose’s calm settling presence in the half-court of a close game is a good addition for the Knicks.
Julius Randle leads the Knicks in most statistical categories and is the focal point of the Knicks offense. On nights he is struggling, the team struggles mightily. The Knicks will be reliant on Julius Randle to have a big performance tonight if they want to come out on top.
Exciting minutes to watch for are from rookie Immanuel Quickley. Knicks fans love the dynamic young point guard, who, while making rookie mistakes, has a veteran floater game. His ability to make things happen on the drive-by either finishing in the key or at the rim, depending on what the defender gives him, is a precious instinct. Quickley should develop into quite an effective point guard over the next couple of years.
Derrick Rose verse Ja Morant. I know Rose will not start the game, but these 2 still finish against each other. Their ability to execute in the half-court could decide the victor of what should be a close game. Morant should remind Rose of his younger self, with lightning-fast quickness, athleticism, and a natural flair for the creative. Morant would do well to study Rose’s maturation and ability to be effective even after losing his athletic prowess.
While neither of them are good defenders, they could be matched up against each other towards the end of the game. Here I like Rose’s veteran acumen to be more effective in crunch time but it is hard to discount a player as talented as Ja Morant.
My Pick and Pop
I like this as a sell high buy low spot for each team. Memphis is at what could be the peak of its value coming up for solid road wins. The Knicks have lost 5 of 6. Yet these games have been close and they should have full focus and attention to detail tonight.
I also think the Knicks can give Jonas Valanciunas problems, and force Memphis to become a perimeter-based offensive attack. The Knicks have done well to dictate which shooters they will leave open and coercing their opponents into taking shots with less proficient shot makers. I think this will be on display tonight as the New York Knicks get back on track at home.
NBA Pick: New York Knicks ML +102 (BKMKR)
Image Courtesy of Imagn