The New York Knicks have been shocking all as they continue to fight for a playoff spot. Now, 23-23, they face three tough matchups. Although they don’t face NBA contenders, they play four games this week, more than most. New York will face off against the Heat, Timberwolves, Mavericks, and Pistons.
New York vs Miami
The Knicks’ toughest matchup on paper is their first of the week. New York faces a Miami side who have recently brought in guard Victor Oladipo. A side filled with the likes of himself, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, and Bam Adebayo will surely give the Knicks some problems. The two faced off recently in back-to-back games in which the Heat narrowly beat their opponents in each game.
Key matchup: RJ Barrett vs Jimmy Butler
RJ Barrett and Jimmy Butler have had ultimately different seasons despite averaging similar numbers as of late. Butler hasn’t been able to lead the Heat to wins while Barrett has defied expectations. The two aggressive defenders will likely keep each other to low numbers however it’ll be a fascinating duel.
It’s difficult to see the Knicks come out of this one with a win. They’ll be facing a high-energy side for which Oladipo will likely be playing. Along with this, New York is coming off a tiring game vs the Bucks whilst Miami hasn’t played since Friday and will be well-rested. Thibodeau’s side will struggle, and may not have enough in them to come away with a win.
The game begins at 7:30 PM EST on Monday, March 29th at the Garden.
New York vs Minnesota
This is perhaps the easiest matchup for the Knickerbockers. They play the worst team record-wise in the Timberwolves. D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns have each struggled with injuries and mediocre play. Along with this, their #1 pick Anthony Edwards is yet to meet expectations. They’ve been weak defensively and have struggled on the other side of the floor as well. The Knicks can take advantage of their weaknesses and cause havoc against Towns’ team. Julius Randle will be feasting on the vulnerabilities on offense and RJ Barrett should have little difficulty in getting to the rim.
Key matchup: Taj Gibson vs Karl-Anthony Towns
There isn’t a clear-cut key matchup here. There aren’t too many categories on which there’s much balance between the two players of identical position. However, it will be interesting to see Taj Gibson take on the rising star in KAT. Gibson will be forced to come out and guard his opponent at the 3-point line which he isn’t accustomed to. In the previous matchup, these two fought it out late and Gibson came out on top. Although KAT is significantly better, a good duel could arise in these two.
New York should come out on top here. They face likely the worst team in the NBA. Although this was a very tight game last time the two sides matched up, this round should be rather different. New York is fully healthy this time out and will have cut out their mistakes from the previous game. This will be a low-scoring scrappy game and the winner will end up being whoever makes the least mistakes.
The game tips off in Minnesota at 8:00 EST on Wednesday, March 29th.
New York vs Dallas
Without a doubt, this game will be most entertaining for either fan-base. The Knicks face their former franchise player in Kristaps Porzingis. Along with this, they’ll need to manage to keep All-Star Luka Doncic quiet. New York holds Dallas’ first-round-pick this season which will give them extra motivation to sink their opponents. Fans go crazy for this game and one should expect this to be one of the loudest games at The Mecca this season. These two are yet to face off this season before this. The Mavericks have had a mediocre season thus far and currently sit seventh in the West. However, lately, things have begun to pick up for them. These two match up fairly evenly and is a one-to-watch for all NBA fans.
Key matchup: Julius Randle vs Kristaps Porzingis
The former Knick vs the one who was brought in to replace him at the last minute. What looked like a horrible trade for the Knicks has begun to pan out nicely for them who now have an All-Star on their hands. Now, the two face off in what will be a very even contest. An offensive-minded Julius Randle faces a terrific shot-blocker in The Unicorn. Randle may struggle against the 25-year-old. However, he may capitalize on Porzingis’ underwhelming season for the Mavericks.
There’s always an indescribable amount of energy at MSG whenever these two play. However, the energy not only comes from fans but is from the Knicks players as well. With the less-than-perfect season the Mavs are having, it looks like the Knicks could come out on top. Dallas will put up a brilliant fight, however, New York always seems to have the energy to put them over the edge against Dallas.
The game begins at 7:30 PM EST at Madison Square Garden on Friday, April second.
New York vs Detroit
Another simple matchup this week is against the Pistons. Detroit has struggled all season and has already lost both games to the Knicks by a significant margin. Although the Pistons have started to pick things up recently with the new acquisition of former Knick Dennis Smith Jr, they’re still one of the most vulnerable teams in the NBA. Jerami Grant has been a bright spot for his side, however perhaps the only light that’s been on this season. They’ll have much difficulty in taming a Knicks side that has defied expectations this season.
Key matchup: Immanuel Quickley vs Dennis Smith Jr
Although only one of the two will likely be starting in this game, they should still be on the court at the same time for much of the game. Smith Jr and Quickley share the same high-energy play which will keep them both on their feet all game. At their best, each of these two young guards can cause havoc for the opposition and with the vulnerabilities, they both have defensively, this is probable.
Knicks should come out on top once again. They have all the keys to beat their opponents by a significant margin. However, fans shouldn’t rule out an upset. The Knicks will be playing this one just a day after facing the Mavericks. New York will undoubtedly be tired and with their small roster, they won’t have the luxury to rest their stars. The Pistons can take this opportunity to shock the Knicks. However, it’s still unlikely and Thibodeau’s men should come out on top to sweep this series.
The game begins at 8:00 PM EST in Detroit on Saturday, April third.