Knicks vs. Thunder Primer (Game 1 of 82)

knicks logo vs. okc logo

  • When: Thursday, 19 October 2017 at 7:00 pm CST
  • Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
  • TV: TNT
  • Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
  • Line: OKC -12.0 | O/U – 215

Ten years strong and we’ve almost seen it all. We’ve seen two MVP’s. We’ve seen one Coach of the Year. We’ve seen one 6th Man of the Year. We’ve seen four Western Conference championship appearances. We’ve seen one NBA Finals appearance. We’ve seen injuries derail promising seasons. We’ve seen front office moves that have left us cheering and ones that have left us confuzzled (confused and puzzled). We’ve seen players we love traded. And we’ve seen players who were once heroes to us turn into absolute villains. 

And yet, with all that history (and maybe because of that history), there has never been a more anticipated season than this one. There are different motivating factors in sports. Things like revenge, hunger, proving the doubters wrong, focus on a singular target. Separately, all those things can drive a team. But if you combine all those factors together, you have the formula that is driving the Oklahoma City Thunder this season. It has the potential to boom or to bust. It could be the best of times or the worst of times.

It’s like when you went to the chemistry lab and your first inclination was to see what happens if you combined all the chemicals together. That’s the Thunder this season. Sam Presti brought together a team that has all the ability in the world. But also one that has the “no food in over a week” hunger of never having tasted championship champagne. This team is primed. This fan base is primed. The time to talk about the potential of this team is over. It is now time to execute the plan that has been 10 years in the making.

The Opponent

The New York Knicks, like a lot of other team’s this past offseason, have seen a large portion of their roster overturned. With the trade of Carmelo Anthony to the Thunder, the Kristaps Porzingis Era has officially begun in New York. It didn’t get off to a great start in the preseason, as the Knicks went 0-5.

The Knicks bring a young, but talented roster into this season. Much of their core this season will be 24 years of age or less. Guys like Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez, Frank Ntilikina, Damyean Dotson will all see heavy minutes throughout the season. The 25 year olds (Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and Tim Hardaway Jr) will be the bridge between the youth of the roster and veterans like Ramon Sessions, Courtney Lee, and Michael Beasley. The Knicks will likely try to “out offense” teams this season, but will likely hemorrhage points on the other end.

Injuries

  • Oklahoma City – None
  • New York – None

Three Big Things

1. Potential Defensive Land-mines

The Knicks will likely start Porzingis at the 4, with either Hernangomez or Kanter anchoring the 5 spot. In this line-up, Carmelo Anthony will be guarding Porzingis. While that could be advantageous for Anthony on the offensive end of the court, he’ll likely struggle with Porzingis on the other end. Porzingis will be able to shoot over Anthony while on the perimeter and post him up if he takes it inside. If the Knicks choose to put Porzingis at center, that negates Steven Adams’ strength as a rim protector. If the Thunder have to help on Porzingis, he’s a good enough passer to get it to Hardaway Jr or Dotson for open 3’s.

2. Westbrook

Throughout the evening, Russell Westbrook will have either Ramon Sessions or rookie Frank Ntilikina on him. Neither match-up is advantageous for the Knicks. Westbrook could be in line for a big game.

3. Enes Kanter

2 things: 1) Welcome back to one of the most beloved Thunder players of all-time. His standing ovation will likely rival that of Serge Ibaka’s from last season. 2) Kanter could be a problem against our reserves. It will be Patterson’s first action of the season, so his minutes could be limited. Jerami Grant is a tad bit too small to handle Kanter. And Dakari Johnson is just not ready for NBA minutes. Kanter has a tendency to beast against opposing reserve big men, and this may be an optimal situation for him to do that.

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