For the final time before the regular season, the New York Knicks are taking on the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight at Madison Square Garden. The two teams faced off on Wednesday night, culminating in a 100-93 victory for the Knicks.
This is the final preseason game for both young squads.
The Cavaliers are 2-1 on the season, coming off of a loss against the Knicks. Although, there was some upside shown on Wednesday night.
But, one player that stood out to me was rookie Isaac Okoro. His scoring ability isn’t what I’m raving about. It’s his on-ball defense. With his defensive aggressiveness, koro looked like a younger version of Jimmy Butler. There is a bright future ahead for this young kid.
But, Cleveland has to limit the turnovers as they turned the ball over 22 times on Wednesday night. The turnovers were likely a momentum-shifter.
The injury report is as follows:
DOUBTFUL: Dante Exum
QUESTIONABLE: Levi Randolph
The projected lineup for tonight is pretty unpredictable.
New York Knicks
The Knicks are 2-1 in the preseason like the Cavaliers. New York impressed me on Wednesday but also showed some flaws. The first three and a half quarters weren’t a disaster but the team looked overwhelmed.
The team’s three-point shooting was horrific, only sinking 23.5 percent of their shots from beyond the arc.
Starting point guard Elfrid Payton played horrifically. He attempted multiple stepback threes that all missed. As a matter of fact, Payton’s three-point shooting is a strong weakness of his. He also committed two turnovers and only scored five points in just 25 minutes. Payton is not starter material.
In fact, when he and Julius Randle are on the court, the team pace is horrifically slow. Randle didn’t play horrifically, putting up 18 points in 28 minutes. He did make his quota of ridiculous turnovers and ball-hogging. Some things never changed. Even MSG color man Walt Frazier acknowledged the fans’ frustration with Randle.
“This is why the fans go irate against Randle, folks”
Once again, RJ Barrett had a good performance, scoring 16 points in 32 minutes. Barrett did a solid job of getting to the rim and drawing fouls. Nonetheless, he also made all of his free throws. One of Barrett’s weaknesses last season was his free throw shooting. He looked improved from the line this time around.
Dennis Smith Jr. had a turnover issue but also made some clutch shots and recorded five steals. He is slowly becoming known for his defensive prowess. If he limits the turnovers, he can rebound from last season.
After Wednesday’s thriller, Knicks fans are now calling for Immanuel Quickley to be the team’s starting point guard. This comes with good reason. The kid’s energy he puts into the offense and team, in general, is not matched by any of the point guards on the Knicks roster. While Quickley didn’t put up the greatest numbers, he recorded seven assists creating swift ball movement and a faster offensive pace. His playmaking was considered a flaw coming out of college. Well, no shortage of playmaking here.
Kevin Knox looked like the 2018 Summer League version of himself. Coming off of the bench, Knox scored 16 points in 22 minutes. He also showed quickness off of the rebound, quickly getting the ball out of his hands. His aggressiveness on the court really motivated his style of play.
Obi Toppin played his role on the court. It wasn’t a special game but he played well. He connected well with teammates on alley-oops, giving Knicks fans flashbacks of prime Amar’e Stoudemire.
Mitchell Robinson’s play looked awful early on as he got himself into early foul trouble. As the game went on, Robinson became more disciplined. He was also the recipient of some awesome alley-oops. Robinson recorded 13 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks in 31 minutes.
This lineup of Quickley, Barrett, Knox, Toppin, and Robinson looked swell. Fun glimpses of the future ahead.
Tonight’s matchup between the Cavaliers and Knicks looks to be a good one.