Crispy’s Pre-Game Notebook: Knicks-Grizzlies

@mikecrispinonyk

  • The Knicks’ home schedule opens tonight with the Grizzlies in town and interest in the NBA at an all-time high, coming off a season when there was a record 723 sellouts and teams playing to 94 percent arena capacity league wide.
  • The NBA’s increased cap space, moving from $70 million to $94 million, inspired teams to “go deep” in trying to improve. A prime example is Memphis, which signed Chandler Parsons to a four-year, $94-million dollar deal! Parsons has been chronically hurt the past two seasons, making it a huge gamble.
  • The small-market Grizzlies also made history by signing point guard Mike Conley to a league-record five-year $153 million dollar contract in the offseason.

Grizzlies Conley

  • This season, the Grizzlies will try to extend their streak of seven straight playoff appearances — only San Antonio and Atlanta can match that — with a first-year head coach in David Fizdale. The 42 year-old Los Angeles native, and former point guard for San Diego St., had been an assistant for the past 12 years in Atlanta and Miami, winning two titles with the Heat in 2012 and ‘13.
  • Joakim Noah, a native of Hell’s Kitchen, will make his first home start with the Knicks, who are trying to erase the memory of Tuesday’s opening-night loss in Cleveland, where the defending champs served notice they are serious about repeating.
  • With 10 new players and the club looking to develop chemistry, an important factor for the Knicks in the early part of the season is to try and establish a home-court advantage. Last year, New York was 18-23 at The Garden. It needs to reverse that and then some to take the next step forward.
  • Fizdale is a rookie head coach, but he has a veteran team in Memphis that knows how to win. Last year, the Grizz played in 44 games where they were within five points with 5:00 left and won 26 times. Memphis’ three-year record is 88-48 in those games.
  • Jeff Hornacek will attempt to pick up his first win as Knicks coach and has a team looking to redeem itself after the sluggish second half Tuesday night in Cleveland.

hornacek-1920-stock-101916

  • “When things get tough, don’t try to do it yourself,” Hornacek said. After allowing 69 second-half points Tuesday, Hornacek has challenged his players to “guard guys.” The key to that? “Communication,” he said. Jeff looks and listens for good D! The coach wants his players to “call out defenses” as the opponent plays fold.
  • Hornacek says the Grizzlies are a team that has tons of veteran experience. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are always looking for ways to get under the opposition’s skin. The Knicks will have to play through that to succeed.
  • Tonight will feature Garden debuts for Noah, Brandon Jennings, Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee and others. It also features a Garden return for Randolph, who is playing in his 17th year. A former Knick who loved playing at The Garden, Randolph has been coming off the bench for Memphis. And he appreciates his coach’s direct approach when communicating the move to him, “He was upfront and honest, telling me that it was best for the team, and best for me at this point in my career,” Randolph said. There’s that word again … communication. It’s better to know where you stand. Let’s see if it works for the Grizzlies.