The New York Knicks travel to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder on Friday night. This will be the first of two matchups between these two teams.
The Knicks are coming off an exciting win at The Garden on Tuesday night defeating the Charlotte Hornets 102-94. Both teams battled back and forth throughout the game but the big story in this game was the play of rookie Power Forward Kristaps Porzingis. In just his 12th NBA game, he recorded a career-high 29 points on 10/17 shooting and had 11 rebounds. He became the youngest player in Knicks history with at least 25 points and 10 rebounds in a single game. He had the crowd at MSG loudly chanting "Por-zing-is! Por-zing-is!" after a three-point play following an offensive rebound in the fourth quarter. The locker room was buzzing about his performance. Carmelo Anthony, clearly excited for Porzingis, spoke to the media after the game, "It felt good, man... It felt good to hear his name being chanted in our arena. I'm proud of him."
As for the Thunder, they are coming off a win on Wednesday night defeating the New Orleans Pelicans 110-103. Russell Westbrook had a big game scoring 43 points (14/25 shooting), 9 rebounds and 8 assists. This was his third game with 40+ points this season, he also scored 12 of OKC's final 15 points to help seal the win. Enes Kanter also turned in a solid performance, giving the Thunder a nice boost off the bench scoring 24 points (8/15 shooting) and had 14 rebounds. Kevin Durant did not play in this game due to a strained hamstring that he suffered last week. This was his fourth game sitting out.
For this game, the Knicks will need to be sharp both offensively and defensively as well. On offense, New York needs to continue moving the ball to get the best available shot. The team has done a great job in this area having a combined 40 team assists in their last two games. They are also coming off a solid shooting performance hitting 50% (10/20) of their shots from three on Tuesday night. They can't rely too heavily on the three point ball but if the shots are falling, expect them to ride that wave. On the defensive end of the floor, the Knicks will need to keep the Thunder off the boards. They are a great offensive rebounding team which leads to many second chance opportunities for them. OKC is a dangerous offensive team with Westbrook at the Point Guard position so limiting their second chance points will be crucial in this game. There's no way to fully contain Westbrook; he is always going to get his points so the Knicks will need to make somebody else beat them.
The matchup everyone wants to see is Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant but with KD unlikely to play Friday night, an intriguing matchup to watch will be Kristaps Porzingis against Serge Ibaka. Both big men have the ability to play in the post and have a strong mid-range game. It will be fun to see how they defend one another as well as the battle on the boards. Porzingis is coming off a historic game Tuesday night, it will be interesting to see how he follows up that performance.
Tipoff is scheduled for 8:00 P.M. EST.