When: 7:00 p.m. AZ Time
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix
Watch: Fox Sports Arizona
Listen: 98.7 FM
The Suns are riding the high of winning three out of four games, including their first winning streak of 2019, after enduring a franchise-long 17 game losing streak.
Players are excited. The fanbase is lapping up the unexpected drops of water in their parched mouths. Now’s the time to start winning on the regular, right?
Tonight’s opponent is like, yeah, been-there-done-that.
Just a week earlier than the Suns, the lowly Knicks won three out of four games, including their first winning streak of 2019, after enduring a single-season franchise-long 18 game losing streak.
Since then, the Knicks have fallen back on hard times.
They followed up that mini-surge with a loss to the equally-lowly Cavaliers and are now on a new losing streak that could quickly extend to four against the suddenly-surging Tsuns.
New coach David Fizdale has not had Kristaps Porzingis all season and basically has few NBA caliber players at his disposal.
While the Suns can look to the future with Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker and a number of other high draft picks in tow, the Knicks are focused more on their two-max-player cap space for quick answers.
The Knicks do have a couple of nice young talents, though.
Knicks fans absolutely love 20-year old Mitchell Robinson, a shot-blocking center who thinks every single shot is blockable from anywhere at any time. Lately, he’s been averaging nearly a double-double with four blocks (and four personal fouls) in only 24 minutes a night. For Suns fan reference, he’s a super-charged Richaun Holmes in terms of on-court attitude and fan adoration.
Dennis Smith Jr., former top-10 pick who came from Dallas in the KP trade, has been gangbusters since joining the Knicks. The 21 year old is averaging 15 points, 6.5 assists, 1.7 steals per game since the trade.
Kevin Knox, the 9th overall pick this summer, is having a good season as well, putting up 12 points and grabbing 4 rebounds. He’s got a long way to go to become an effective NBA player though, with a 42.0 true shooting percentage.
Rookie Allonzo Trier, former teammate of Ayton at Arizona, burst out of the gate early this season, then hit a lull and now is surging again. Over his last eight games, he’s putting up 17.4 points on 56% shooting (60% on threes).
Damyean Dotson, Emmanuel Mudiay and Noah Vonleh round out the every-night rotation.
The Knicks have given up on this season entirely. They will finish with a bottom-three record, pray for Zion Williamson, and then pray they can spend their free agency money on Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, or trade for Anthony Davis to play next to one of those guys.
The problem with acquiring one or two of Davis/Irving/KD is that the rest of the team still sucks or is too young to win consistently, as the Lakers have proven this year with LeBron James. And maybe after watching what happened to the Lakers, the Knicks could find that none of these guys wants to be the first to sign on the dotted line.
The Suns know as well as we do that they play harder against the league’s best teams than they do against the league’s worst. Luckily, they’ve got more voices in the locker room with sweat equity that have played for winning teams recently, including mid-season acquisitions Tsunami Papi and Tyler Johnson.
Tyler Johnson in particular has been vocal on the Suns reputation, and their need to prove their winning ways. I absolutely love this quote he gave Ashley Nevel yesterday.
“I mean we won two in a row, but then how do we approach today’s practice? Is everybody not paying attention to detail?
“Because it’s very easy, especially for younger teams, once you taste a little bit of success and get on a little bit of a roll, to take a step back because you know maybe you’re not fully locked in to why we got there in the first place.”
I think it’s 100% true that this team really has no clear idea of what got them these wins other than hustle. Contributions came from all over and aren’t necessarily repeatable by guys who haven’t done this consistently.
All year, we’ve watched letdowns after big wins.
Let’s see what comes out on Wednesday night against the lowly, wereallywanttolosethisgame Knicks.
On Monday afternoon, I predicted that the Suns would play really well against the Bucks and then lay an egg against the Knicks.
I have no reason to think otherwise. I mean, it was just five days ago this surging team gave up 75% shooting in the third quarter to the wereallywanttolosethisgame Pelicans, right?
So I predict a 120-112 loss to the Knicks.