The Golden State Warriors need a win. You know this. And they’ll hopefully be welcoming back three players: Steph Curry (one game missed due to illness), Kevon Looney (10 games missed due to a sprained ankle), and James Wiseman (11 games missed due to a sprained wrist).
And it all takes place against the New York Knicks, at the basketball mecca.
Who: Golden State Warriors (16-15) vs. New York Knicks (15-16)
When: 4:30 p.m. PT
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
TV: NBC Sports Bay Area
Projected starting lineups:
Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kelly Oubre Jr., Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney
Knicks: Elfrid Payton, RJ Barrett, Reggie Bullock, Julius Randle, Nerlens Noel
Warriors: Lost to the Hornets 102-100 — 2-3 in their last 5 games
Knicks: Beat the Wolves 103-99 — 4-1 in their last 5 games
Team ratings (garbage-time adjusted, per Cleaning The Glass)
Warriors: 110.7 offense (21st), 110.7 defense (7th), -0.1 net (15th)
Knicks: 108.2 offense (23rd), 108.2 defense (3rd), -0.0 net (14th)
The story is all about whether or not the Warriors can bounce back. They lost a heartbreaker on Friday, blowing a 13-point fourth quarter lead to the Orlando Magic. Then they lost an even bigger heartbreaker on Saturday, blowing a 10-point fourth quarter lead to the Charlotte Hornets, complete with myriad questionable decisions, some questionable coaching and refereeing, a horrible move by Draymond Green to get a pair of technical fouls, and a buzzer-beating game-winner by Terry Rozier.
It was about the cruelest two days you can have in the NBA without suffering a debilitating injury.
So how do they bounce back? At this point, the opponent doesn’t even really matter. The Warriors will show great mental toughness and have a solid win — or they won’t, and they won’t.
Players to watch
Warrior to watch: Steph Curry.
I listed Curry as the player to watch on Saturday before he was a game time scratch due to illness. And my reason for listing him was simple: he doesn’t have three bad shooting games in a row, and he loves playing against the Hornets.
The first part of that statement carries over to this game. In the last two games he’s shooting 19-for-54 from the field and 11-for-36 from beyond the arc (it is worth noting that he has 22 assists to just 4 turnovers, with 14 rebounds, so it’s not like he’s playing poorly, the shots just aren’t falling).
It’s safe to say Curry will have tons of motivation tonight. He’ll want to right the ship after two poor games by him, and two bad losses by the team. He’ll be upset about missing Saturday’s homecoming game. He loves playing at Madison Square Garden.
It could be a great performance by the chef.
Knickerbocker to watch: RJ Barrett.
The Knicks second-year player continues to mix in bad games with good ones, but lately it’s been more of the latter than the former. In the last three games he’s averaged 19.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, while shooting 51.1% from the field and 71.4% from distance.
Small sample size is small, but Barrett clearly has the ability to make a big impact on games.
Matchup to watch: Draymond Green vs. Julius Randle.
Assuming Kevon Looney and James Wiseman make their returns, Green will slide back to the power forward spot to start the game, where he’ll be matched against Randle. Randle has been making an exceptionally strong push for the All-Star Game this year, averaging 23.2 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game, while shooting 41.0% from three-point range and sporting a 59.0% true-shooting percentage.
It’s been a sensational season from him, and watching Green defend him should be a joy.
Keys to victory
- Don’t let the deflating losses lead to sloppy and undisciplined play.
- Steph Curry and Draymond Green lead the way.
- Kevon Looney and James Wiseman don’t look too rusty.
- Find some easy looks against the Knicks strong defense.
Find a win, Dubs. By any means necessary. Please.