Coming off of the All-Star break all eyes will be looming toward the February 20th trade deadline in which we all want to see some type of move be made, but before that the Knicks have a game in Memphis on Tuesday night.
The Knicks are 12 games under .500 yet somehow are just 2.5 games back of a playoff spot thanks to the horrendous Eastern Conference. The question now becomes do you play to try and make a bottom tier playoff spot with a sweep coming at the hands of either the Indiana Pacers or Miami Heat? Or tank for a better draft pick and hope Carmelo Anthony comes back? Oh, wait, this is the Knicks we are talking about and they don’t have a first round draft pick until 2018.
Anyway, first game off the break is a trip to Memphis where the Grizzlies are starting to play some good basketball. Just a few weeks ago this team seemed dead in the water at four games under .500 in the dreaded Western Conference, suddenly they are now six games over .500 and looking to overtake the Dallas Mavericks for a playoff spot where they could be a dangerous first round matchup. The Grizzlies will look to Zach Randolph to lead the way, last time these two teams met at Madison Square Garden on December 21st, 2013, the Knicks couldn’t contain him and he finished with 25 points and 15 rebounds.
For the Knicks they have hit what finally might be the low point of this disastrous season, coming off an overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings 106-101. The Knicks should get a lift by getting J.R. Smith back for this game, but wearing a mask that seems to be bothering him could mean bricks all night long. The Knicks will need to contain Mike Conely, who is a decisive, quick and pesky point guard, which has been a huge problem for Knicks point guards to defend all season long. The Knicks will also need to crash the glass much harder, because the Grizzlies are not an offensive team by any stretch of the imagination, so it will be important to limit second-chance shots and move the ball on offense to keep Memphis’s stingy defense honest.
Although a lot of fans will overlook this game because of the looming trade deadline, it will be important for the Knicks to start taking strides in the right direction. After all, a playoff berth would be better than missing out all together after a second seed last season. If the Knicks can make some type of improvement to the roster at the deadline and sneak in to the playoffs with some momentum to finish the season, they could be a dangerous first round matchup. Knowing the Knicks, it will certainly be an interesting finish to the season.