On Friday, the Knicks fell to 2-4 thanks to Damian Lillard’s late-game heroics in Milwaukee. They’ll look to score a win at home on Monday against the NBA’s latest superteam, the Los Angeles Clippers.
Better yet, this tilt at the Garden also happens to be James Harden’s Clippers debut. The former MVP was recently acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers and joins a star-studded lineup, plus Ivica Zubac.
Scrappy New York has a tough task ahead. Forge a path to victory, but also contain LA’s star power.
Time: Monday, Nov. 6, 7:30 p.m. ET
Betting Line: Knicks +1.5, Over/under 224, via DraftKings
Injuries: RJ Barrett (Knee; questionable), Terance Mann (Ankle; OUT), Brandon Boston Jr. (Quad; OUT)
Key Storyline: What can we expect from these new Los Angeles Clippers? It’s hard to look at the new expected Clippers lineup and not have the same questions we had about LeBron and the Heatles. How will they all work together? More importantly, how long can a group of aging veterans, some with their own lengthy injury histories, stay healthy and actually play together?
All eyes are on Harden, who only managed 16 games playing alongside both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn. The Knicks, contrastingly, communicate well with each other and should have a sound strategy for shutting down the Clippers’ multipronged attack.
Key Matchup: Quentin Grimes vs. James Harden. Again, this is Harden’s first game of the season after a lengthy holdout in Philly. He’s going to be rusty in his first game back and coach Ty Lue may cap his minutes. However, Harden can still put points on the board and Grimes is the best man to stop him.
As to strategy, it’s really simple: Make Harden force his shots. He’s 34 now and not as quick to the basket as he was in his prime. Grimes should take advantage of this and make sure Harden is either shooting bad threes or otherwise forced to pass the ball to a teammate.
X-Factor: RJ Barrett. It’s a safe assumption that if not for Barrett’s absence, the Knicks probably win one of their last two games. The young wing practiced Sunday and is expected to return Monday evening. Barrett has also been the most consistent Knick to start the season, averaging 21 points per game and shooting 45.3% from the field. He has also made almost 43% of his threes.
Barrett isn’t a complete analytics darling, nor is he a traditional superstar. He is, however, a legitimate talent and Knicks cornerstone who has proven invaluable when at his best. And if he’s ready to return against the star-stacked Clippers tonight, the Knicks need him to put on a show.
Knicks predicted starters: Jalen Brunson (PG), Quentin Grimes (SG), RJ Barrett (SF), Julius Randle (PF), Mitchell Robinson (C)
Clippers predicted starters: Russell Westbrook (PG), James Harden (SG), Paul George (SF), Kawhi Leonard (PF), Ivica Zubac (C)
Prediction: The Clippers might have the star-laden lineup, but two factors work against them. First, they haven’t faced any elite teams early on. Second, it’s a pretty old and aging lineup and Zubac is the only starter under 30.
The younger Knicks are hungry for a win and have some solid depth behind their starting five. It won’t be easy, but they’ll find a way to eke this one out on their home court.
Knicks defeat Clippers 121-116