Beating the Hawks in Atlanta capped a great week for RJ Barrett.
In the name of RJ Barrett, sound, trumpeters!
Hear ye, hear ye! Following a great week, Lord Rowan Alexander Barrett, second of his name, New York Knicks star and lethal Canadian sniper, has proclaimed the following:
*ALL ABOARD THE RJ BARRETT EXPRESS!!*
Okay, so maybe I nor ESNY speak for RJ Barrett, nor the New York Knicks. But just look at how the third-year winger turned in another great week as the Knicks got back in their groove. Even better, Barrett and the Knicks finished a strong week by once again dominating the rival Atlanta Hawks.
You know, the same team that got lucky and manhandled New York in the playoffs last year. The same team the Knicks have manhandled not once, not twice, but three times this year, including twice in Atlanta!
Anyway, we’ll get back to the Hawks game a little later, but let’s shift back to RJ Barrett. Mere days after I said he should be leading the Knicks’ offense, he kept up the hot streak with 26 points and five rebounds.
His Knicks have another potentially soft week coming up. Will Barrett’s success continue along with his team’s?
RJ Barrett played like a star
Regardless of who the New York Knicks played last week, Barrett still played incredibly well. 31 points against the underachieving yet feisty San Antonio Spurs. 32 in a win over Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, and in doing so becoming the youngest Knicks player with consecutive 30-point games. He’s averaging 24.6 points on 47% shooting in January and has made an amazing 48.7% from three.
He abandoned the nickname to honor its namesake, but there’s a reason RJ Barrett was once called the Maple Mamba. When he’s at his best, the ice water he has in his veins puts the frozen Canadian lakes of Ice Road Truckers to shame. If he’s locked in, motivated, and has the ball, there’s nothing stopping him.
Just look at his performance against Atlanta on Saturday. Sure, he had 26 points, but on 8 of 20 shooting. Over a third of his points came from free throws, but Barrett was also 8 of 10 from the line. He didn’t care about his percentages. He just wanted his New York Knicks to beat the Hawks that badly.
RJ Barrett could have another big week
New York has another fairly soft week ahead, and all at home. If there’s a time for Barrett and the Knicks to stay hot, it’s now.
The Charlotte Hornets visit on Monday afternoon and rank second in the league in scoring, but have the second-worst defense. The Knicks have been the best defensive team this month, and keeping that up against two fast guards in LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier is important.
Cut to the second half of a back-to-back when the Minnesota Timberwolves visit on Tuesday. Remember, they gave the Knicks fits in Minnesota last month when all of their stars were in the health and safety protocols. This time, Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards will be ready to suit up.
Next up are the New Orleans Pelicans and their 16 wins on Thursday, and then the Los Angeles Clippers visit for a Sunday matinee. Except, neither Paul George nor Kawhi Leonard will play.
The Knicks’ defense has been strong as of late and, under ideal circumstances, will dominate at least half these upcoming opponents. Not only that, there’s something of a revenge factor for RJ Barrett as he scored a combined ten points in games against Minnesota and Charlotte this year.
Now, let’s see how he and New York answer the bell.