Knicks Host Nets in Battle of the Boroughs at the Garden
1. Admittedly, Frank Ntilikina is itching to get back on the floor and make his regular season debut in front of the New York faithful. The rookie played eight minutes in the season opener against the Thunder before suffering a sprained ankle in a practice session the next day in New York. At yesterday’s practice, head coach Jeff Hornacek said he was impressed with Ntilikina’s participation and the 19-year old confirmed he’s pain-free while preparing for the showdown against the Nets. Hornacek believes Ntilikina will suit up for the Friday night tilt barring a significant setback prior to the opening tip.
2. Enes Kanter is fresh off a monster performance on the glass. The big man snatched an eye-opening nine boards in the first quarter on Tuesday night. He grabbed 16 of his 19 in the first half and finished with a team-high 16 points in 29 minutes. Through three games, Kanter ranks sixth in the league in rebounding and owns strong defensive rebounding percentage at 32.0.
3. Willy Hernangomez certainly made the most of his minutes on the floor on Tuesday evening in Boston. In just 11 minutes, Hernangomez hit 5-of-6 shots from the floor for 12 points. His Per 36 numbers are impressive at 16.2 points and 13.5 rebounds while shooting 53.4 percent from the floor. The second-year man owns a whopping 40.3 PER for the 2017-18 season.
4. The Nets enter tonight’s matchup with a 3-2 mark following an upset victory over the Cavaliers on Wednesday night in Brooklyn. Spencer Dinwiddie drilled a go-ahead 3-pointer to lift the Nets to a win despite the absence of D’Angelo Russell (knee). Former Knicks assistant coach Kenny Atkinson and current Brooklyn signal caller have engineered a team that ranks No. 1 in points per game (121.2) in the league. On the flip side, the Nets are allowing a league-worst 119.4 points per game.
5. Jeremy Lin is out for the season due to a ruptured patella tendon of the right knee. The injury occurred in the season opener for Brooklyn against the Pacers last Wednesday night. Russell is now dealing with a right knee sprain and is listed as doubtful for tonight’s contest at MSG. If Russell is unable to dress tonight, Atkinson could feature Dinwiddie at the point guard spot next to Caris LeVert in the backcourt. Atkinson started Dinwiddie, LeVert, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Demarre Carroll, and newly acquired center Timofey Mozgov on Wednesday night against Cleveland.