Los Angeles Clippers at New York Knicks
Madison Square Garden
4:00 p.m. PST
January 17, 2014
1. Would you rather have Carmelo Anthony or Blake Griffin?
Robert Silverman, KnickerBlogger, (@BobSaietta): Right now, Carmelo Anthony is a smidge better. That said, once he does sign a full max extension this offseason (whether it’s with the Knicks or another team—and if you think Melo’s taking a Buffalo Nickel less than the full $130 million, I’ve got a suspension bridge in a tristate borough that’s for sale that I’d love to discuss with you), the scales tilt in Griffin’s favor. Long term, with a more favorable deal and with five fewer seasons on his odometer, he’s the asset you want on your roster.
Fred Katz, (@FredKatz): You mean I could have a 24-year-old star who hasn’t even hit his potential yet and who is in the first year of a five-year deal? Or I could have a 29-year-old volume shooter who has already insisted he will enter free agency this summer and who will be making almost $30 million in his age 35 season after I re-sign him to an exorbitant $130 million contract this offseason? That doesn’t sound like much of a decision to me.
Michael Shagrin, (@mshaggy): Blake Griffin. I really enjoy these Griffin vs. Player X comparisons because Blake’s developmental trajectory still appears to be pretty steep. His offense continues to improve. He’s better at doing what we’ve come to expect from him while adding rangier tools to his repertoire. Furthermore, he’s progressing on defense, though he’s still pretty easily distracted — an eminently fixable problem that should abate with more maturity.
2. Over/under 1 minute played for J.R. Smith.
Silverman: I mean, even the most crackerjack Vegas line makers won’t touch this one. Yes, Earl Smith III appears to have once again exited from Mike Woodson’schenil, but something could occur between now and tipoff that would return him to said gulag. Maybe he took a chainsaw to the flight attendant’s station on the flight back to New York? Perhaps he told Raymond Felton that it was a good idea to eat a fistful of these yummy candies? Alas, given the rash of injuries the Knicks suffered in last night’s game against the Pacers, any crimes and/or misdemeanors are going to have to be pardoned/overlooked/indulged. I’ll take the over.
Katz: Over. Smith is playing and then getting benched and then playing and then getting benched. Last night in Indiana, though, he played 28 minutes. To say he’s not going to play is betting on him getting into some other disagreement with Mike Woodson at some point in the hours leading up to the game. Actually, let’s not count that out.
Shagrin: Over, but not without a fair share of regret from Mike Woodson. J.R. Smith is like that awesome girl you dated who started acting like a complete maniac once things got serious. Blinded by infatuation, maybe you even moved in with her. Then all of a sudden, you’re trapped with a 10 month sublease and she’s tying together the shoelaces of your oxford’s because you bought the wrong quinoa.
3. What is the Clippers’ biggest matchup advantage in this one?
Silverman: Transition offense. The Knicks have been downright terrible at getting back and preventing easy buckets. They just don’t have the athleticism to keep up with Griffin and Jordan and if you held a foot race between Darren Collison and Ray Felton, the latter would be sweating pure Crisco before they crossed the halfcourt line. Lob City gonna Lob City tonight.
Katz: The Clippers’ transition game vs. the Knicks’ transition defense. The Clippers may not run the fast break quite as effectively without Chris Paul, but they still rank sixth in the league in pace since CP3 went down two weeks ago. Darren Collison and Blake Griffin have done a nice job in running the break in Paul’s absence. The Knicks, meanwhile, don’t get back particularly quickly and their non-Chandler bigs may struggle to run the floor with the hyper-athletic Jordan and Griffin.
Shagrin: Griffin and DeAndre Jordan should gobble up space around the basket. When Carmelo plays the four, as he usually does, the matchup favors the bigger Griffin from the get-go. Even more, Mike Woodson has limited tools with which to respond due to an already thin frontcourt. Amar’e and Kenyon Martin will each sit with ankle sprains and Tyson Chandler has looked conspicuously slender since his most recent illness.