Knicks Preview: New York Could Be Without Derrick Rose Against Cavs

Coming off their road victory against the Miami Heat, the New York Knicks may be without Derrick Rose for their matchup against the reigning champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

The New York Knicks took their talents down to South Beach and captured their third road victory of the season, 114-103 over the Miami Heat. Carmelo Anthony missed his first four shots, but caught fire later in the game, tying his season-high in points with 35, along with four rebounds and two assists.

I mentioned yesterday that the key to this game was Jennings & Co. taking advantage of Miami’s banged up second unit, and they did just that. Jennings led the way with nine assists, Kyle O’Quinn had 12 points and seven rebounds, and the bench totaled 36 points.

All was well for #KnicksNation until Derrick Rose left in the third quarter with an apparent injury.

Rose left the game with back spasms and never returned. Fans have seen the first 20 games of Rose’s tenure with the Knicks without injury, until Tuesday.

Knicks fans squint every time they read “Rose” and “injury” in the same sentence, and rightfully so. Rose has missed a total of 228 games since entering the league in 2008.

If we equate that to NBA regular seasons, Rose has missed 18 games short of 3 full seasons of his NBA career, which is why fans worry every time he goes down awkwardly.

Fortunately, this injury wasn’t anything leg or knee related, which is good news. The optimist in me says that Rose experienced some discomfort, could have returned, but played it safe in hopes of being able to play against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Knicks welcome LeBron James and the Cavs to Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night in the second game of a back-to-back. If the Knicks want to beat the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference, they are going to need a healthy Rose.

Despite Rose’s injury, the Knicks do have a reason to be happy. 21 games into the 2016-17 NBA regular season, the Knicks are 12-9, good enough for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. The starters are playing cohesively on offense with effective ball movement and are fighting for more rebounds on the defensive end.

The Knicks’ bench is one of the deepest in the NBA, which could help them both maintain and extend leads.

Winners of four straight, the Knicks are playing their best basketball of the season, just in time to face their biggest challenge of the season: the Cavaliers. The Knicks are 9-3 at home, but if they want to get their 10th win, they are going to need a complete game on both ends of the floor.

If the Knicks are lackadaisical on the defensive end, James and Kyrie Irving will wreak havoc all night. The Cavs will be without former Knick J.R. Smith, which means Jennings & Co. could take serious advantage of Cleveland and their bench.

If Rose is unable to go tomorrow, I don’t believe the Knicks can keep up with Cleveland on the second game of a back-to-back. However, for all intents and purposes, let’s assume Rose is healthy and ready to play. If so, Rose can help break down their defense and create open shots for others, while forcing Irving to run around and defend at a high level.

With exhaustion comes substitutions, and the Knicks’ second unit is the key to this team. If Jennings & Co. can extend leads while James and Irving rest, it’ll take a lot of pressure off the starters.

The X Factor

The Knicks are playing at Madison Square Garden, where they are currently 9-3. Being that this game will be nationally televised on ESPN, I think MSG will be as loud as ever.

The Verdict

If Rose suits up, the Knicks pull of the upset and beat the defending champs, 108-105.

If Rose sits out, the Knicks fall short to the Cavs, 110-102.

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