They’re only 7 games in, but the Knicks’ season has been a bit of a rollercoaster already to start the year. Returning much of the same roster from last season’s squad that fell to the Miami Heat in the second round, the continuity one would expect hasn’t really been seen. Their two main shot-takers from last season, Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle, have struggled shooting the ball in the early going. This has been especially true of Randle, who is shooting just 29% from the floor and is already drawing the ire of the infamous New York tabloid press. Unsurprisingly, that poor shooting has trickled down throughout most of the roster, as just 3 of their main rotation players are shooting better than 40% from the field.
It’s not all bad, though. The Knicks have the league’s 2nd best defensive rating through 7 games and have been one of the best rebounding teams to start the year, especially on the offensive glass. With Randle and Brunson struggling with efficiency early on, 5th year starting forward RJ Barrett has picked up the slack and has shot the ball well. They’re coming off a 111-97 victory over the new-look LA Clippers on Monday night.
The Spurs come into the Big Apple coming off another big early season defeat, a 152-111 road SEGABABA drubbing to the Indiana Pacers. Tonight’s game represents some of the brightest lights rookie Victor Wembanyama and the young Spurs will step into as a team, as there is no basketball venue more famous than Madison Square Garden. Hopefully a day off and a film session after Monday’s disasterous outing in Indiana has them refocused and ready for the show tonight.
San Antonio Spurs (3-4) at New York Knicks (3-4)
November 8, 2023 | 6:30 PM CT
Watch: ESPN | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Devin Vassell (groin - doubtful), Keldon Johnson (wrist - probable)
Knicks Injuries: None
What to watch for
- Michael Jordan famously referred to Madison Square Garden as, “the Mecca,” and it has long been a favorite place to play for many of the very greatest players in the history of the league. The Spurs’ own Tim Duncan was named the Finals MVP for the first time during his illustrious career and helped lead San Antonio to their first championship on its hardwood all the way back in 1999. Now, 24 years later, Victor Wembanyama takes his first steps onto the world’s most famous arena, hopefully with the first of many dynamic performances. A special moment indeed!
- The Knicks’, “Villanova Trio,” of Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, and free agent acquisition Donte DiVincenzo have all struggled with their shots out of the gate. Of that trio, All Star Brunson leads them in attempts by far, but is shooting just 40% from the field. Hart and DiVincenzo play mainly as secondary ball handlers and don’t take near the amount of shot attempts Brunson does, but they are both shooting under 40% from the field. DiVincenzo is at least knocking down 38% of his looks from outside, but there’s a lot of work to be done for 2 guys that are a key part of the New York rotation.
- New York has been strong on the boards overall to start the season, with a strong emphasis on the offensive glass. They’ve pulled down double-digit offensive rebounds in each of their first 7 games and are +53 over their opponents in that span.
- Like everyone on the Knicks, Immanuel Quickley has struggled with his long ball, but he’s still been productive and one of New York’s most consistent players thus far. The speedy 4th year guard (who has never been shy about his shot selection) also happens to be the sort of player who can get hot in a hurry and turn a game around. Limiting Quickley’s production would be a huge plus for San Antonio tonight.
- The Knicks as a team are making just 33% of their 3PA per game, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t get hot against this Spurs defense. San Antonio obviously needs to do a much better job guarding the perimeter to prevent the Knicks from going supernova against them like Indiana did. Hopefully some of these slumping Knicks can help them out a bit by holding off at least one more game before regressing to the mean.
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