The Knicks will seek to move above .500 against the Western conference in a showdown against LeBron’s Lakers.

The Knicks (27-24) welcome in the Los Angeles Lakers (23-28) for the first of two matchups this season. Coincidentally, both teams are coming off of losses at the Barclays Center to the Nets and are trying to get back on track this evening. The Lakers, despite having two top-10 players in the Association in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, have had a mediocre season, with injuries and overall roster construction beyond James and Davis being the biggest culprits in their struggles.


Under rookie head coach Darvin Ham, the Lakers are sixth in the NBA in points per game, but are 26th in three-point percentage, per NBA Stats, which has been a long-standing issue out in LA regardless of coach. Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss have collectively failed to put a roster conducive to the modern NBA around their two star players and have tried to plug holes with players who are either expensive, limited or on the back nine of their career like Russell Westbrook and Dennis Schroeder, and their title hopes have paid the price for it. The once-proud Lakers have become a poorly run franchise, wasting away the final years of James’ excellent career and Anthony Davis’ prime. Aside from James and Davis, the Knicks have a far superior roster and should be able to keep the Lakers at bay and avoid a letdown this evening.

Regardless of the Lakers’ shortcomings, LeBron at 30.2 points per game is still a force to be reckoned with and has exemplified longevity and greatness in a way that we have never seen before and might not ever see again. Although James is questionable tonight with a sore foot, it’s hard to imagine him not taking the floor at Madison Square Garden, a place he’s always loved to showcase his talents at, especially with the NBA scoring record only 117 points away. The often-injured Anthony Davis is also questionable this evening as he recovers from a foot injury of his own.

Per Land of Basketball, the Knicks and Lakers have split the last 10 matchups dating back to 2016.

Paint Presence

The Knicks’ newfound ability to defend the perimeter, especially with Quentin Grimes and Immanuel Quickley, coupled with the fact that the Lakers leave a lot to be desired in the shooting department signals that the Lakers will likely end up looking to do most of their damage inside and arc and more specifically in the paint.

Mitchell Robinson’s absence will be a little more glaring tonight, as guys like Anthony Davis, Thomas Bryant and Rui Hachimura will be relied upon to exploit the Knicks’ backups with paint scoring. Against the Celtics, we saw Jericho Sims play a very good game, with 14 rebounds and tremendous energy throughout, while matched up against a premier player in Robert Williams. Sims also had a game-saving block and was a catalyst in a huge W.

If Sims, as well as Isaiah Hartenstein, can hold their own against the Lakers’ bigs, this could be a fairly wide margin of victory for the Knicks over a team that does not cause any panic in terms of shooting.

Tip off this evening is at 7:30 on TNT.

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