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Utah Jazz vs. New York Knicks Game Preview: Glory days are in the rear-view mirror

Game #20: Knicks (10-12) @ Jazz (9-10)
Location: Vivint Smart Home Arena • Salt Lake City, UT
Time: 7:00 p.m. (MT)
TV: ROOT Sports • Radio: 1280 AM / 97.5 FM

John Starks *against* the Knicks?
John Starks *against* the Knicks?
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

As of right now my pretties, the New York Knicks are 12th in the East with a 10-12 record, and the Utah Jazz are 7th in the West with a 9-10 record. Removing conferences these teams are a lot closer, with the Jazz being 12.0 games behind the Dubs, and the Knicks being 12.5 games behind. If the Jazz win they go up another 1.0 games on the Knickerbockers. If the Jazz lose, these two teams flip flop. It's crazy, in a way, to think of our two franchises being around the same level. The Knicks have made the playoffs four times in the last 15 seasons. The Jazz have done it seven times in the last 15. Both teams bottomed out. New York won 17 games last season, and actually went below 25 wins two other times in the last 15. Utah went down to 25 two seasons ago. No matter what you point to as success, either wins, or making the playoffs, or making the playoffs most recently, or whatever -- these two once mighty teams are still trying to return to greatness.

Being an NBA fan in the 80s and 90s I got a chance to see both teams claw their ways up from good to great, and got to see both play in the NBA Finals twice each in the decade of the 90s. Some of the most iconic players in my heart came from those teams: Karl Malone, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, Mark Eaton, Jeff Hornacek, John Starks, Anthony Mason, and so on. I saw a lot of defense. I saw a lot of fouls. And I saw a lot of emotion. Growing up the Knicks were my "Eastern Conference" team mainly because when I lived out of the USA they were one of the teams that were on TV the most. When the Jazz and Knicks played it was like two machines built to grind it out go at one another. Pat Riley and Jerry Sloan would have it no other way.

But those days are loooong gone. The head coaches now are Quin Snyder and Derek Fisher. And the players on both teams who have played at least 400 minutes this season are (most to least playing time): Carmelo Anthony, Gordon Hayward, Kristaps Porzingis, Jose Calderon, Derrick Favors, Langston Galloway, Alec Burks, Rodney Hood, Robin Lopez, Rudy Gobert, Trey Burke, Lance Thomas, and Arron Afflalo. These aren't the iron men I grew up watching and trying to play like in my driveway. But it's an interesting mix of players for sure.

No one on the Knicks is hurt. But they have lost two in a row, and are playing their first road game in a three game stretch, this is the first in a back-to-back set for them. The Jazz are without two starters, defensive stalwart Rudy Gobert and potential laden youth point guard Dante Exum. The Jazz look to be at a disadvantage here, but their amazing home court should make a difference. Oh, the Jazz are only 4-4 at home this season? Yikes.

It's going to be a rough game at times. Melo will Melo. Gordon Hayward will do his thing. It will be nice to see Broadway Trey Burke step up, we need him playing with confidence and swagger if we're going to use offense to win games. Also, yeah, Joe Ingles is going to play some four tonight, again. Such is our lot in life, Artoo.