Vincent Carchietta | USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks (10-11) have little time to celebrate and head home to face the Milwaukee Bucks (14-5) one night after routing the Pistons in Detroit, 140-110.

Let’s recall that earlier in the season, I predicted the Knicks would defeat the Bucks in their first meeting, at Fiserv Forum. Instead, New York was out-rebounded and (of course) struggled with free throws in a 119-108 loss. The Bucks committed just six turnovers and now sit No. 2 in the East.

The No. 10 Knicks aren’t winning consistently yet, but are finding ways to stay competitive in games. On the latter end of a back-to-back, they’ll hope to ride momentum back home to Madison Square Garden.

Can they even the season series with Milwaukee after a tuneup in Detroit?

Time: Wednesday, Nov. 30, 7:30 p.m. ET


Injuries: Khris Middleton (wrist, out), Serge Ibaka (non-COVID illness, out) MarJon Beauchamp (non-COVID illness, out)

Betting Line: Knicks +5.5, Over/under 228 via DraftKings

Key Storyline: Can the Knicks capitalize on a slowing Bucks stampede?It’s easy for Knicks fans to get intimidated by the Bucks, who won a championship in 2021. Milwaukee has a bona fide superstar in Giannis Antetokounmpo and in turn has provided him a solid supporting cast. Mike Budenholzer’s balanced coaching also helps, thus the Bucks starting the season 9-0.

But look at Milwuakee’s record now. They’ve leveled out without playing bad basketball and still don’t have Khris Middleton. New York is treading water but, as we know, Thibodeau’s Knicks always show up for the Bucks.

Key Matchup: Quentin Grimes vs. Grayson Allen Grimes finally being back from a foot injury is a big reason why the Knicks have stayed competitive in recent games. He won’t score a bunch, but will be a pesky three-and-D. Grayson Allen, on the other hand, is just a general pest who can score.

Speaking of Allen, he’s quietly having a career season with 11.2 points per game and making 45% of his threes. He’s shot them even better in November, at a video game-like 53.1%. Given how Milwaukee’s built their lineups in Middleton’s absence, look for Grimes and his length to be all over Allen in hopes of cooling him down.

X-Factor: Jalen Brunson A big reason the Knicks struggled to keep up with Milwaukee back on Oct. 28 was largely from Brunson’s off-night. He had just 13 points and two assists in 33 minutes, taking just 10 shots and looking like anything but a scoring point guard. Brunson knew it too and quickly held himself accountable after the game.

“We started out really slow. A lot of that’s on me. I’ve got to do a better job with just coming out and attacking, being who I am,” he said. “I take full credit for that. I’ve got to come out with the intensity and tenacity like I usually do.”

The Knicks are their best when they have a point guard who leads. Brunson is fully aware he didn’t earlier in the season and must turn in a better effort tonight, even if Jrue Holiday’s defense is a continual problem.

Bucks predicted starters: Jrue Holiday (PG), Jevon Carter (SG), Grayson Allen (SF), Giannis Antetokounmpo (PF), Brook Lopez (C)

Knicks predicted starters: Jalen Brunson (PG), RJ Barrett (SG), Quentin Grimes (SF), Julius Randle (PF), Mitchell Robinson (C)

Prediction: It’s always hard to figure which version of the Bucks will show up, particularly at the Garden. Milwaukee probably views New York as a tuneup game of sorts with their recent 5-5 “slide,” and the Knicks likely see an opportunity to pounce.

Milwaukee puts up a good fight, but not enough to stop a rejuvenated Brunson. This time around, New York has just enough momentum left over from Detroit and ekes out a squeaker at home.

New York Knicks defeat Milwaukee Bucks, 111-106.

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.