ESPN could have picked a better game to show in prime time tonight. Neither the Knicks, nor the Jazz are playing particularly well at this point in the season but sometimes a game between two teams with their own distinct problems can be an entertaining one. Tune in at 10:30 p.m. if you’re interested.
The Knicks are coming off a loss as bad as it gets against Memphis. The Grizzlies were without over $80 million in salary between Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons and Brandan Wright and their starting five’s combined salary was just over $15 million. The Knicks were at full strength, save Tim Hardaway Jr. playing 26 minutes off the bench instead of 30-something as a starter. Jeff Hornacek is still walking on eggshells with Hardaway’s workload.
Utah, meanwhile, is coming off of a 15-point win at Sacramento, it’s first win in three games. There are reports describing the tension in the locker room with all of the trade rumors going around. Guys like Derrick Favors, Rodney Hood and Joe Ingles have been mentioned in potential trades and it feels like Utah will make a move or two. The Jazz aren’t going to leapfrog anybody in the Western Conference so it might as well start looking toward a rebuild that might not take long considering it already has a young center, young point guard and young coach in place. The sooner Utah starts trimming the fat, the better. In the short term, that doesn’t make for a friendly environment, suitable for winning games.
Kristaps Porzingis barely missed out on starting the All-Star Game. He won players’ vote over Joel Embiid, but the more prolific tweeter won the vote from the fans and media, which combine to make up 75 percent of overall tally. It feels like a long time ago when he was averaging 30 per for a Knicks team that looked like a middling contender the East. FiveThirtyEight published a piece about Porzingis’ shot selection this week, explaining that he basically takes the same poor shots the Knicks’ fans bemoaned Carmelo Anthony for taking. They were going in when Porzingis was fresh to start the season; now they aren’t.
FiveThirtyEight’s model has Utah -6.5 tonight and rarely is Vegas’ number much different without good reason. Based on the climate of Utah’s clubhouse leading into this game, it makes sense that the books want some action that way, hence the reduced price on the Jazz.. But I believe you get what you pay for, and in this case it’s a dead Jazz team that is just waiting for the moves to be made. New York is hardly back-able at the moment, but in a game between two struggling teams, it is the less of two evils.
Free Pick: New York +5