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Pistons vs. Knicks Preview: Two teams in desperate need of a victory

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The Pistons are banged up and the Knicks are just bad.

New York Knicks v Detroit Pistons Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The 3-5 Detroit Pistons host the 1-6 New York Knicks tonight.

This past Sunday evening, the Knicks hosted the Sacramento Kings in a battle of 1-5 powerhouses, and I watched almost the entire game. If that sounds insane, look at it this way — I watched a Knicks game so you didn’t have to. (Editor’s Note: Thank you for your service, Ryan.)

The Knicks were coming off a two-point defeat to the Boston Celtics just two nights earlier. I had hope that watching the Knicks wouldn’t make me want to gouge my eyes out.

I was wrong.

Briefly setting the stage before I began watching Sunday’s game:

RJ Barrett, a rookie, is the Knicks leading scorer (17.7) and coming into the game as 7th in the league in minutes per game (36.5). Seventh in the league! He’s just 19 years old.

Barrett is talented, and is shooting 36% from downtown on nearly four tries per game, yet mightily struggles from the charity stripe with a sub 50% mark. The ball is in Barrett’s hands a ton - even as a 19-year old rookie he has a 24.4% usage rate.

Forwards Marcus Morris, Julius Randle and Bobby Portis have had their strong moments thus far. Kevin Knox, an offensively gifted second-year wing/forward, is one to watch as well (also watch for Knox’s non-existent defense).

The Knicks signed about 40 new players in the offseason and so far they’re just 1-6. There’s not a whole lot I can write except that they’re very much still the Knicks.

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The game

21-year-old point guard Frank Ntilikina, who the Pistons were rumored to have interest in, played just four first quarter minutes and was ineffective. The Knicks played the rest of the first quarter with rookie RJ Barrett as point guard (point forward?). Against the Celtics two days earlier, Frank played solid in his 38 minutes. Sunday, he played a listless 15 minutes.

Marcus Morris drilled three perimeter shots in the first frame, and for the game he was the Knicks only efficient player, shooting 9-of-14 from the floor en route to 28 points.

The Knicks offense mostly consisted of very little offense in terms of sets, motion and misdirection. There a lot of post-ups and “I better take this somewhat open three or contested long two because there’s really not much happening here” type looks.

I watched the Knicks’ broadcast, which features Hall of Famer Walt “Clyde” Frazier and Mike Breen. Frazier has a colorful and extensive vocabulary, if you didn’t know - He used ‘pugnacious’ to describe Bobby Portis after a slightly rough sequence in the paint with a usually physical Richaun Holmes of the Kings. Seems about right. After all, didn’t Bobby wreck Nikola Mirotic’s jaw back back a season or two ago?

The Knicks found themselves down 43-23 pretty early in the second quarter. It was at about this point where Frazier began to go a bit deeper into discussion.

He noted that the Knicks are clearly without confidence and without leadership. He doesn’t know where they’ll get it from right now. Then, he praised the Knicks for their early season spirit and fight, despite their poor record. Frazier also made sure to note there was nothing of the sort present against the Kings.

The halftime score was 61-41, Kings. Things didn’t change much in the second half.

Through the first three quarters the Knicks went with a nine-man rotation, bringing in Allonzo Trier, Wayne Ellington, Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson (minor finger injury) off the bench to spell starters Ntilikina, Barrett, Morris, Portis and Julius Randle.

Pistons vs Knicks “Analysis”

Who knows what the Knicks’ starting lineup will be against Detroit. Head coach David Fizdale is still trying to find which lineups work and don’t work. To be fair, he’s doing a pretty good job of finding out which ones don’t work right now. Give him that at least.

Will center Mitchell Robinson be back in the starting lineup to try and thwart Andre Drummond?

Tony Snell is likely to get the assignment on Barrett, with Bruce Brown likely seeing time on him as well.

Who will Andre guard when Robinson is sitting? Portis?

With Wood and Maker as light bigs who are struggling on defense, the Knicks would be wise to attack them in the post with Portis, Randle and Morris.

More things I learned watching the Knicks vs. Kings game

Fire Fizdale chants are here:

  • Allonzo Trier, an undrafted second-year player who had an excellent offensive rookie season, is a terrible defender. To be fair though, De’Aaron Fox makes most players look pretty foolish and slow like they are stuck in mud. Walt and Mike more than a few times mentioned Trier’s need for development on the defensive end. Essentially, a guy that quick with the ball in his hands should be able to be an adequate defender.
  • RJ Barrett is very wise beyond his years. Zach Lowe recently praised Barrett writing that he’s “conducting like a vet”. That’s legit. But what about RJ Barrett playing another wild amount of minutes (41) against the Kings? That might be all well and good for him and the team now, but that’s not sustainable. Or is it? What about hitting the rookie wall hard in a few months?

Morris made this shot, but it’s still a bad shot and one he made a little more difficult for himself than he needed to (and there’s 16 seconds still on the shot clock!):

2019 Knicks’ offense:

  • Despite what I just showed you, Marcus Morris is much better than Markieff. Guys, we have the wrong Morris.

Self explanatory:

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Game Vitals

When: November 6, 2019, 7 p.m. EST
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit+

Projected Lineups

Detroit Pistons

Bruce Brown Jr., Luke Kennard, Tony Snell, Markieff Morris, Andre Drummond

(Will be without Blake Griffin, Reggie Jackson, Derrick Rose, Tim Frazier)

New York Knicks

Frank Ntilikina, RJ Barrett, Marcus Morris, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson?

(Will be without Elfrid Payton, Dennis Smith Jr., Reggie Bullock, hope)

Question of the Day

Are you prepared to take to the streets if Detroit loses this game?