Time: 11:30 PM CST
TV: NBA TV & FSOK
The Oklahoma City Thunder (27-18) are back in action on Monday morning in New York City, taking on the struggling Knicks (10-34) at 11:30 a.m. CT at Madison Square Garden. The early game is part of the NBA’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration and features a Thunder team that is third in the Western Conference and fresh off Saturday’s 117-115 victory over the 76ers. The Knicks enter having lost five straight and 13 of their last 15 contests.
Tip-off is at 11:30 PM CST and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma and NBA TV. The Thunder are 9.5-point road favorites according to Odds Shark.
- Alex Abrines: Active — Won’t Play
- Andre Roberson: Out — Knee
- Trey Burke: Questionable — Illness
- Kristaps Porzingis: Out — Knee
Knicks: Emmanuel Mudiay, Tim Hardaway Jr, Kevin Knox, Noah Vonleh, Luke Kornet
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What to Watch For
Keep It Rolling. Though they nearly melted down in the final seconds, the Thunder took care of business on Saturday versus the Sixers — something they’ll need to do again today versus a bad Knicks team. With games against the Trail Blazers, Pelicans, and Bucks between now and Sunday, it’s important OKC wins this one against one of the worst teams in the league.
Attacking the Knicks. New York surrenders 115.4 PPG to opposing offenses — tied for fourth-most in the NBA. They’re also 29th in defensive rating at 113.1 and have the fourth-worst net rating at -7.8. This game shouldn’t be close and only will be if OKC fails to take the Knicks seriously. With a few bad losses on the Thunder’s recent schedule, there’s reason for at least moderate concern about them letting New York hang around.
Who to Watch. Tim Hardaway Jr. leads the Knicks in scoring at 19.5 PPG, followed by Emmanual Mudiay’s 14.8 PPG, Enes Kanter’s 14.4 PPG, and Kevin Knox’s 12.5 PPG. They’re young, inexperienced, and don’t have a great deal of weaponry. With an offensive rating of 105.3 (25th in NBA), they should have all sorts of problems with the Thunder defense. For OKC’s part, they just have to defend better than they did last week against the Hawks and Lakers.
Like Last Time. The Thunder took a 128-103 victory in the first matchup between these teams, riding 35 points on 13-of-22 shooting from Paul George to victory. Russell Westbrook did not play in that game due to a sprained ankle, so it will be interesting to see the difference he makes. He’s coming off a 21-10-6 performance on Saturday in Philly and will look to bounce back from a 8-of-21 shooting effort that featured poor decision making and a couple mistakes that were nearly catastrophic in the final seconds.
Can’t Play Kanter. Though Mitchell Robinson recently returned from injury and figures to see some time against Steven Adams today, Big Kiwi should be in line for a big day down low. He’s far too experienced for the rookie Robinson, too physical for recent starter Luke Kornet, and too gifted in the PnR to expect Enes Kanter to slow him down. Adams had 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting the first time he faced the Knicks this season. Wouldn’t be surprising to see him contribute efficiently yet again today.
Abrines. According to Maddie Lee of the Oklahoman, Alex Abrines is active but will not play today against the Knicks. Appears as though we’re at least getting a bit closer to his return. Weird deal.
Nick Gallo’s game day report: