The NBA could stand accused of using cruel and unusual punishment for forcing the New York Knicks to host a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Christmas Day. Obviously, the league expected the Knicks to be much more competitive than they are right now when the schedule was released, but that simply hasn’t been the case for New York.
Surely, Knicks coach Mike Woodson is spending Christmas Eve agonizing over one of the biggest matchup nightmares his team has faced all season long. New York has struggled with perimeter defense this season, and now the team must figure out how to slow down the most explosive point guard in the NBA.
In theory, Russell Westbrook should be poised for a career day against this Knicks team that has been in the giving spirit to opposing guards all December long. New York has allowed a 23-point outburst to Jordan Crawford of the Boston Celtics, a 37-point performance to Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers, a career-high 36 points to Brandon Knight of the Milwaukee Bucks, and 26 points to Aaron Afflalo of the Orlando Magic.
There’s absolutely no debating the fact that Westbrook is superior to all of those other players that have previously embarrassed the Knicks this month, and the only thing left to figure out is how bad he will make the Knicks’ defense look on Christmas. New York will likely be forced to use Beno Udrih and Toure Murry to guard Westbrook, so look for Westbrook to join the ranks of guards who have already torched the Knicks’ defense this month.