Knicks vs. Heat (7pm ET Wednesday, ESPN)
The Knicks defeated the Atlanta Hawks 107-101 last night, as Carmelo Anthony posted a 23-11-7 and Kristaps Porzingis added 17 points and 11 rebounds, bringing their record to 17-19 and matching their win total for all of last season. Nearly halfway through the season, Porzingis remains the Knicks’ big story, having gone from mercilessly booed to legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate. But if you’re a Knicks fan, your biggest concern right now has to be how to protect the team from women of the night and gangbangers: Cleanthony Early is out indefinitely after being shot in the knee last week after a swarm of dudes descended on the Uber he and his girlfriend were taking home from a strip club in Queens. That tragedy came just two weeks after teammate Derrick Williams was robbed of more than $600,000 worth of bling, allegedly by two women he’d brought home from a Manhattan club. If you happen upon these women, do not take them home:
The Miami Heat head into tonight’s action riding a 3-game winning streak and having enjoyed a well-deserved day off. They’re currently 21-13, good enough for the 3 seed in the East, but a knee injury to center Hassan Whiteside has them giving Chris “Bird Man” Anderson more playing time than they’d like. Whiteside missed Monday’s 103-100 victory over the Pacers, and is questionable for the game against the Knicks. Whiteside has been the Heat’s third leading scorer and one of the NBA’s best field goal shooters, but it’s his D that will be sorely missed, as he’s leading the league in total blocks (132) and blocks per game (4), and he’s third in Basketball Reference’s defensive win shares with 2.6.
Grizzlies vs. Thunder (9:30pm ET Wednesday, ESPN)
You’d think a team that features Mike Conley and Marc Gasol would be better than 19-17, but you’d be wrong. The problem for Memphis is simple: they can’t shoot the ball from the field. Despite boasting the third-highest free throw percentage in the NBA, the Griz also have the second-worst effective field goal percentage, trailing only the lowly Lakers. Shooting that poorly, even when playing average defense, is not a recipe for success. Given that their opponents outscore them by 2.8 points a game, they should be grateful that they’ve got a winning record. It likely won’t last.
Following a 2-point loss to Miami on December 3, the Thunder found themselves at 11-8 and wondering what the hell was going on. A month later, they’ve won 13 of 16 and are proud owners of the fourth-best record in the league at 24-11. The big difference has been a little help from the scheduling gods, who sent both the Lakers and Jazz their way twice, and the improved health of Kevin Durant. Durantula has not just been playing, but playing slightly more minutes, taking fewer shots, making more of them, and dropping more dimes.