The New York Knicks play the second half of a back-to-back on Monday night against the Denver Nuggets. Here’s what they should expect.
For the last six years whenever the New York Knicks faced the Denver Nuggets it was more than just a regular game, but things are different with Carmelo Anthony on another team and Denver sporting almost an entirely different roster.
Now it’s just another game in late October between two teams in very different positions. The Knicks are in the middle of a rebuild while the Nuggets have playoff aspirations after picking up Paul Millsap via free agency in the offseason.
The Nuggets do have one thing in common with the Knicks – they aren’t off to a great start. While New York is 2-3, Denver is just 3-3. The Knicks don’t plan to be much better, while the Nuggets are hoping for a nice run.
If Denver wants to be a playoff team, they need to beat teams like the Knicks. You can expect a great effort from the Nuggets tonight, and much more.
A Healthy Dose Of Jokic
Nikola Jokic is the best player no one’s ever heard of. Knicks fans must remember him from the last time these two teams squared off, and Jokic dominated. The Serbian star had a career-high 40 points on 17-of-23 shooting in a Nuggets win.
Jokic, listed a 6’10” 250 pounds, was too much for Kristaps Porzingis too handle on that night. He’s precisely the kind of player the Knicks talk about when they say they don’t want Porzingis to get hurt guarding centers.
It’s likely that Enes Kanter will draw the unfortunate task of guarding Jokic tonight. I know I don’t envy him.
Unlike New York, Denver will be aggressive and attack the basket on offense tonight. That’s more their style in the halfcourt. They are eighth in drives per game while the Knicks are ranked dead last. The Knicks were second to last in 2016-17, by the way.
The Nuggets have five players who average more than five drives per game. The Knicks have one, Ramon Sessions, and he hasn’t played in the last two games (via NBA.com). Denver is 3rd in points in the paint; New York is 13th.
The Knicks have one thing going for them on offense. Denver isn’t a threat from downtown either, and like the Knicks, they know it. The Nuggets are 24rd in three-point attempts per game. The Knicks are 25th.
A Big Game From Millsap
The last time Paul Millsap went up against the Knicks, he scored a season-high 37 points. Now he has more talent around him with the Nuggets and is capable of doing even more. Expect a big game from one of the NBA’s quietest stars.
He’s a tough matchup for Porzingis because he’ll take the unicorn out to the perimeter. Tonight is going to be a good example of why people think Porzingis should be playing some center.
Maybe most of all you should expect something out of the ordinary tonight. The Detroit Pistons are in first place in the East, and the Memphis Grizzlies are in first in the West. The early NBA season has been completely unpredictable.