rj barrett
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The Knicks (17-13) are on a seven-game winning streak and are in a good position to make it eight on national television.

The Golden State Warriors (15-16) visit Madison Square Garden looking for a season sweep. They beat a shorthanded Knicks team in San Francisco back on Nov. 18 and, despite noticeable struggles this year, are still the defending champions.

The script has since flipped. The Knicks seem in perfect sync despite some injuries. The Warriors, meanwhile, will have to win on the road without the transcendent Stephen Curry.

Time: Tuesday, Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m. ET.


Injuries: Obi Toppin (knee, out), Stephen Curry (shoulder, out), Andrew Wiggins (groin, out), Andre Iguodala (hip, out).

Betting Line: Knicks -5, Over/Under 221 via Sports Betting Dime.

Key Storyline: Will the Knicks strike while the iron is hot? This is a rare opportunity for the Knicks, facing a dangerous Warriors team with Curry sidelined. Remember that up until this season, Golden State had never beaten New York at the Chase Center. Contrastingly, the Warriors haven’t lost at MSG since 2014.

Golden State has also been particularly bad on the road this year, going just 3-14. They’re down not only a future Hall of Famer in Curry, but also a solid scorer in Andrew Wiggins. This is undoubtedly the Knicks’ game to lose.

Key Matchup: Quentin Grimes vs. Jordan Poole The Knicks have played much better defense during their winning streak, largely in part to Grimes. He gives opposing scorers fits on D and he can be deadly from three-point range with the ball in his hands. He’ll guard Poole, Golden State’s go-to scorer while Curry is out.

Poole is coming off of a 43-point night against the Raptors, but shot just 5 of 17 versus New York last month. Mind you, he didn’t have to worry about Grimes that game. Grimes played just two minutes as he worked his way back from a foot issue. To ensure New York’s streak reaching eight, his main goal should be to make Poole a non-factor on offense.

X-Factor: Mitchell Robinson The Knicks’ dominant center was injured for the game at Golden State last month and it showed. New York was out-rebounded 51-45. Not a great look considering the Knicks rank third in rebounding and the Warriors 16th. This time, however, Robinson will be there to dominate the paint and remind Golden State that interior defense matters.

Robinson himself is averaging 10.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks during the winning streak. He has a 1.7 defensive box plus/minus (DBPM) and is only getting stronger on the offensive glass. The Warriors don’t have a lot of size, so Robinson has to be ready to stuff the stat sheet.

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

Warriors predicted starters: Donte DiVincenzo (PG), Jordan Poole (SG), Klay Thompson (SF), Draymond Green (PF), Kevon Looney (C).

Prediction: It seems almost too easy to pick the Knicks, but the Warriors are just that hobbled. Curry has already put up a 2.6 VORP this year, or a 7.0 WAR in baseball terms, and it isn’t even Christmas. The absence of Wiggins and his two-way game will be felt too. Everything is set up for a healthy New York to beat the Warriors and end their dominant streak at MSG. Let’s see them actually do it this time. Knicks 117, Warriors 102.

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.