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Preview: Warriors Host the Artist Formerly Known as the Knicks

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The Knicks come to Oracle on Saturday night sporting the worse record in the league. Will we see starters take this one off as well?

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

I don't even recognize this Knicks team anymore. Sure, they still wear the iconic jersey. Sure, they still play at the most iconic (see: overpriced) arena in the US at Madison Square Garden. Sure, they are still surrounded by the same national media that follows any New York sports team, even if they haven't been relevant since November. But when New York comes to town tonight, they might trot out a starting lineup that makes you say "that guy is still in the league?!", and I for one think it's sad.

I am an NBA purist. I like parody and competition (this coming from the guy who is absolutely loving the Warriors dominating the league record wise, but oh well). I like when the classic NBA franchises are doing well - Los Angeles, Boston, New York. And that might get me some anger on this site, but hear me out.  They are big media markets. Let them beat everyone else in the league. They can still lose to the Warriors, but the overall NBA product is better when they are competitive. And right now the Knicks are far from that.

Warrior-killer Hall of Fame member Derek Fisher brings his squad into town tonight carrying a league-worse 13-51 record (ironically the exact opposite of the Warriors record at 51-13).  They are without Carmelo Anthony who went on vacation back in January after the All-Star break. They have lost 13 of their last 16 games, carrying second-to-last statistics in points scored per game, points allowed per game, offense and defensive ratings, etc. Not one single member of their starting lineup would get starters minutes for the Warriors (you could argue none of them would be rotation players either). They serve up Andrea Bargnani and Alexy Schved as their scoring tandem, with poor Tim Hardaway Jr. coming off the bench who deserves better. With all this said, the still beat the Lakers in LA on Thursday, so at least they have that going for them.

For the Warriors, nobody will be complaining if this game plays out more like an exhibition than an actual NBA game. Sadly it will be on a Saturday night where the crowd deserves a good on-court product, however I would predict high minutes again for the subs (just like in Denver on Friday). There is no need to take any risk that an errant Langston Galloway drive or a hard Louis Amundson foul would hurt any of our starters. And yes, those two players START for the Knicks.

So what does Steve Kerr do? Should he sit the Splash brothers again? Should Bogut get another night off to rest the knees? I actually liked the subs playing last night. I think David Lee needed some minutes to show himself how out of shape he has become. We need him for playoff minutes, and now is the best time to knock off the ring rust. Friday night's game did wonders for other guys like Justin Holiday and James Michal McAdoo, who probably won't see playoff minutes, but proved that both could provide specific talents in short bursts.

Golden State can only benefit from more playing time from guys like Festus Ezeli, Shawn Livingston and Brandon Rush. I have no problem with this game being a ten point win instead of a thirty point win, as long as none of the starters play more than thirty minutes tonight. Save your energy for the games down the stretch, when you can accurately prepare for the playoffs against playoff-bound teams. Let's put this sorry Knicks team out of their misery, and go enjoy the rest of our Saturday night.

Keys for the game

  • Shut down the Knicks early - like with every bad team, the quicker you can put them down, the better. Any team can be pesky, and we do not want a repeat of the game in New York where the starters had to come back in. The Knicks simply can't shoot, and the quicker that you rebound them and run the back, you could have them finished by the second quarter.
  • Don't get too sloppy- The last game in New York played much like a pre-season game, including bad defense and uninspired passing. Games with no impact on the schedule tend to bring out the worse kind of basketball, and it will be key for the Warriors to avoid this. Steve Kerr will not like 15-20 turnovers, no matter the score. And the fans won't like watching that kind of on-court product either.
  • Who wants some playing time? - The entire Warriors roster is auditioning right now. Who is going to get playoff minutes? Who is going to run with the second unit in big games? Steve Kerr will shrink his rotation down to eight or nine players, as we have already seen in big games. Leandro Barbosa is showing every time he steps on the floor that he can be instant offense, and Kerr must take notice. Who else is going to prove their value? I expect McAdoo to again bring his hustle game tonight, and for DLee to get more run in hopes that he can get his consistency back.

Predictions

  • Golden State shuts this one down, and adds a few more highlight plays to their reel. Steph shows off like it's the All-Star game, the starters make a token appearance for the home crowd, but the reserves play the entire second half on the way to an easy 115- 89 victory.