The Knicks’ youth gets a chance to shine against the lowly Magic following yesterday’s home blowout to the Cavaliers.
As the New York Knicks’ (34-44) season winds down to the final week of games, they travel to Florida to face the Orlando Magic (20-58) for the last time on the second day of a back-to-back following a matinee loss to the playoff-bound Cleveland Cavaliers. New York has a chance to even the series with the Magic after dropping their two previous meetings. Orlando comes into the evening tied for the worst record in the NBA. Unlike the disappointment the season has been for the underachieving Knicks, it’s been more of a learning experience for the Magic, who are the third-youngest team in the NBA.
New York did not have the season they’d hoped for, ravaged by injury, contracts not working, and now Julius Randle possibly sitting out what remains of the schedule. After elimination, time for the ‘Bockers has run out this season. There are some positives takeaways from what’s left until next October, though—for instance, the quality play of their emerging young players as they continue to prove themselves.
Led by RJ Barrett, who’s currently averaging 20.0 points per game for the season and taking a more vocal, leadership role. Immanuel Quickley, who’s come on since the All-Star break averaging 14.9 points per game and he’s embraced becoming more of a facilitator, averaging 3.9 assists a night after a tough first half of the season. Obi Toppin continues to impress in his starting opportunities and it looks like he close out the season that way with Randle’s lingering quad injury. In six starts this season, Toppin is averaging 14.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.3 assists. If there is any reason to keep watching, it’s them.
OBI FROM 3!!! 💦💦💦 pic.twitter.com/nyaDDDSThC
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) April 2, 2022
Though the season hasn’t gone exactly how the Magic envisioned, they have a stable of quality young players headlined by an impressive trio averaging 15 points or better a game; Cole Anthony, Wendall Carter Jr., and Franz Wanger.
In their first meeting, New York bested Orlando in a blow victory that ended 121-96, where the Knicks knock down a record 24 three-point field goals. In the second meeting, the Magic were able to get payback quickly as part of home-and-home when they traveled to New York, where hometown kid, Cole Anthony, had an auspicious homecoming, scoring 29 points and grabbing 16 boards. Known Knick killer Terrence Ross heated up late and put his Magic over the top, scoring 22 points in the final period of the very same game. In the third meeting of the season, the Knicks collapsed late in the fourth quarter to hand the Magic another one of their rare victories of the season. The Knicks are only one of three teams against whom the Magic have multiple victories.
The Knicks have lost two games in a row, but before that, they compiled a season-high four-game winning streak and look to get back in the win column against a lowly Magic team that’s had their number this season. New York can take advantage of a reeling team and add another loss to Orlando’s current five-game losing streak and finish the season series on a positive note. RJ Barrett, struggling mightily against the Cavs, scoring just 12 points on 4-of-18 shooting from the field in a rare bad game these days, looks to get back on track versus the Magic.
Obi Toppin, with possibly the best performance of his career, reached a personal benchmark by scoring 20 points versus the Cavs for the first time in his career. He looks to keep up his excellent play as the temporary starting power forward. Mitchell Robinson, who was almost a nonfactor against Cleveland after grabbing just two rebounds, looks to bounce back against Orlando.
This final matchup versus the Magic may be the Knicks’ best chance at a victory in their remaining games. New York closes out the season against the Nets, the Wizards, and the Raptors, three teams against which the Knicks have accrued a combined 1-7 record.
For the Knicks, Quentin Grimes and Miles McBride remain questionable. The New York Post‘s Marc Berman is reporting Grimes is trying to give it a go today in Orlando. The usuals and Julius Randle are out today.
For the Magic, both Franz Wagner and Cole Anthony are questionable along with Admiral Schofield. Bol Bol and Wendell Carter Jr. are out.
Tip-off is at 6 p.m. ET tonight from the Amway Center, broadcast on MSG Network and Bally Sports Florida.