Which New York Knicks’ big men can be productive when the Warriors go to their “small” lineup?

The Warriors return home after their five-game road trip – and into town on Thursday night come the New York Knicks, who are quietly the third-best team in the Eastern Conference right now.

(Below are links to “Warriors WrapUp,” the postgame show and also “NBA This Week”)

Whenever I take stock of a Warriors’ opponent inevitably the first place I go is to the opposition’s front court. It feels like the first question I always ask myself is this: Will their big players be able to function like they usually do when the Warriors go to their small lineup?

When the Warriors play Draymond Green at center and Kevin Durant at power forward, it is very difficult for the opposition to use a lineup with two big men. Well, you can use it, but it likely won’t be very successful. If you’re hoping to play two big men at the same time against that Warriors’ lineup, you’re asking for trouble. Those two bigs better know what they’re doing, and they also better be pretty skilled.

So, which Knicks’ bigs can play against (definition: take advantage of their own size on offense but not get exploited by their own size/slowness on defense) the Warriors’ small lineup: Joakim Noah? Kristaps Porzingis? Kyle O’Quinn? And, perhaps the most pertinent question: How much time at power forward will Carmelo Anthony play? You figure against the Warriors, it might be more than usual. Always fun to look at this dynamic.

Well, forget Anthony now. He won’t play because of a sore right shoulder. And Derrick Rose is hurt, too. You might have to file this one under “concession game.” This is when a Warriors opponent likely figures they’ll lose anyway so why not just rest our good players anyway?

This is at least the third time we’ve seen a team essentially concede before the game even started. The Dallas Mavericks didn’t play about a half-dozen guys when they came through Oakland, and the Indiana Pacers did about the same thing when they met Golden State in Indianapolis. Now, the Knicks will be without two of their marquee players.

–Later this morning Warriors coach Steve Kerr will likely address the status of center Zaza Pachulia, who has missed the past three games with a wrist injury. Kerr has started a different player in his place in each of the three games: Anderson Varejao, Kevon Looney and JaVale McGee. Will he go to David West tonight? What about James Michael McAdoo? Or will he finally start the same guy twice?

–It’s an old NBA talking point but “they” always say that the first game back home from a long road trip is like another away game. For what it’s worth, the first time I heard any coach say that was back in 1996, when Rick Adelman was the coach of the Golden State Warriors.

The thinking is that the Warriors have been on the road for five games, and so their first day back in their home city is really a 6th away game. Because it’s simply another city traveled to. Who knows how much truth there is to that. With the Warriors … home or away, they’ve been pretty tough the past few years.

–By the way, if you’re going to be out at Oracle for either the Knicks game or the Blazers game, pop by the Crown Royal Club near section 115 for the “Warriors WarmUp,” the pregame radio show on 95.7-FM The Game. I’ll be up there with Kerry Keating from 6 p.m., to 7 p.m., talking ball. Come by and say hello if you’ve got the chance.

Link to “Warriors WrapUp,” the radio postgame show/podcast on 95.7-FM The Game.

Link to “NBA This Week,” the weekly radio show/podcast about the NBA.





About Steinmetz

Matt Steinmetz is a veteran San Francisco Bay Area sports journalist. He covered the Golden State Warriors for the Bay Area News Group for more than a decade before becoming a television analyst with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Steinmetz can be heard on "Steiny & Guru" on 95.7-FM The Game in San Francisco, from 12-3.
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