rj barrett
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The struggling Golden State Warriors have one job tonight: stop the New York Knicks and their momentum out west.

This five-game trip has gone better than expected for the Knicks. We already discussed the importance of these games and so far, New York has delivered. A tough defensive effort was enough to down the Utah Jazz on Tuesday. Wednesday, the Knicks beat the Nuggets in Denver for the first time since 2006.

Now, on national television, they’ll seek their third straight win against a Warriors team whose core is finally starting to show its age.

Time: Friday, Nov. 18, 10:00 p.m. ET


Injuries: Mitchell Robinson (knee, doubtful), Jonathan Kuminga (illness, questionable) Patrick Baldwin (back, day-to-day), Andre Iguodala (hip, out)

Betting line: Knicks +7.5, Over/Under 234.5, via FanDuel

Key Storyline: Can the Knicks stun in San Francisco again? It’s easy to miss, but the Knicks kind of own the Warriors in San Francisco. In fact, New York is undefeated against Golden State since the Chase Center opened in 2019. Three games, three wins, all by five points or less.

The Warriors are different enough this year that lightning could very much strike a fourth time for the Knicks. The defending champions have stumbled to a 6-9 start and definitely have something of an NBA Finals hangover. Golden State also has the second-worst defense in the league. They may be the better team, but they’re also older, and the Knicks need to take advantage.

Key Matchup: Jalen Brunson vs. Steph Curry. It’s astounding how the Knicks have succeeded against the Warriors on the road for a few years, and without a proper point guard to boot. That’s not the case this year. Jalen Brunson has proven a strong fit not just with his basketball skills, but leadership.

And on the Golden State side, Steph Curry is still Steph Curry even as his team struggles. The two-time MVP is averaging a career-best 32.8 points and shooting a deadly 44.7% from three. Curry also leads the NBA in offensive box plus/minus (OBPM), offensive win shares, and VORP.

Basketball is now a high-scoring game where the even higher-scoring point guard is king. Expect Brunson and Curry to carry their teams from the start.

X-Factor: RJ Barrett. The Knicks did a good job extending Barrett over the offseason but results have since been streaky. The former Duke Blue Devil is averaging 18.3 points, but struggling with shot consistency and is just 25.6% from long range. Even worse, he has not made a three-pointer in three straight games and is 0 for his last 16 from beyond the arc.

Barrett will almost definitely be matched up against Andrew Wiggins, a fellow Canadian wing. Wiggins isn’t a great defender, so Barrett having a strong game and making consistent shots could be the difference.

Knicks predicted starters: Jalen Brunson (PG), RJ Barrett (SG), Cam Reddish (SF), Julius Randle (PF), Isaiah Hartenstein (C)

Warriors predicted starters: Steph Curry (PG), Klay Thompson (SG), Andrew Wiggins (SF), Draymond Green (PF), Kevon Looney (C)

Prediction: The Knicks have definitely looked better since a players-only dinner in Utah, but the Warriors have the experience card. Moreover, the Warriors have lost two of their last three and are motivated to play like the defending champs again. Brunson is good, but Curry is elite and will carry Golden State to a much-needed win.

Golden State Warriors defeat New York Knicks 119-107

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.