The powerhouse 2-0 preseason Knicks kick off Garden basketball as they host Anthony Davis and Pelicans.
The New York Knicks are approaching the halfway point in preseason play, as they’ll be preparing for their Friday night showdown with the New Orleans Pelicans—the third of a five-game slate leading up to the official start of the regular season.
So far, the Knicks have done well for themselves. They grinded their way to an overtime victory against the Washington Wizards to tip things off earlier this week. On Wednesday night, they downed crosstown rival Brooklyn at the Barclays Center. New York will look to stay undefeated, as it plays in front of the home crowd for the first time in preseason play. It will host the Pelicans, who are still searching for their first win.
New Orleans has had a few days to regroup, after losing its first two games. The Pelicans lost their preseason opener to the Chicago Bulls, 128-116, then again to the Atlanta Hawks, 116-102, on Monday.
Robinson Unlikely to Play
Unfortunately, it’s possible that fans won’t get to see Mitchell Robinson go up against his offseason training partner and five-time NBA All-Star, Anthony Davis. Robinson rolled his ankle in the fourth quarter of the Knicks’ win over the Nets, and didn’t return to the game.
“It’s good—just a little tweak,” Robinson said, per the New York Post, after Wednesday night’s game. “I’m definitely going to be playing Friday. It ain’t nothing serious at all. I sprained this one before in summer league.”
However, the Knicks coaching staff might opt to play it safe with their 7-foot-1 rookie center.
“I can walk—they just want me to be safe,” Mitchell later added.
Mitchell might not get a full serving of minutes on Friday night, but this would give the Knicks an opportunity to experiment with more lineups and even give the younger players an opportunity to shine. Robinson has turned heads with the way he has played on both ends of the court, whether it be a high-flying dunk or a powerful rejection.
Promising Play from Trier
However, New York’s previous outing was the Allonzo Trier show. While Trier went undrafted in this year’s NBA draft, Wednesday night was only a glimpse of what many Arizona Wildcat fans already knew—he is a scoring machine. Sure, all of the buzz surrounding the 2018 NBA Draft was for his college teammate and the intriguing one-and-done prospect Deandre Ayton, but before Ayton, Trier had been generating most of the fanfare. He was an impact player for Arizona the moment he arrived in Tucson and had been a leading scorer for the Wildcats in each of the three seasons he spent there. He has the ability to score at all three levels in an efficient manner and in a variety of ways. When he heats up, he’s more than dangerous.
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) October 4, 2018
Also keep a close eye on a couple of other Knickerbocker youngsters, primarily their sophomore, second-year players. Frank Ntilikina seems to have taken strides in improving his game on both ends of the court. His scoring has been a work in progress, but he was a respectable 4-of-8 off the bench against Brooklyn, while being in multi-guard lineups. Defensively, he was locked in and had a few highlight plays on Brooklyn’s Spencer Dinwiddie. It would be interesting to see how he does if he matches up against New Orleans’ Jrue Holiday. Holiday has been solid in preseason play so far, averaging 14.5 points and 4.0 assists through two games. He’s shooting 66.7 percent so far on the floor.
Holiday is one of the comparisons that Ntilikina had drawn entering the league. This could be a progress check of sorts, as a young guard goes against a two-way veteran. Also in the backcourt is Damyean Dotson, who’s fighting for minutes and a spot in the rotation. He’s had a couple of nice all-around performances so far in preseason and was a key player down the stretch in both the Washington and Brooklyn matches.
For the New Orleans Pelicans, aside from the obvious spotlight on Davis and Holiday, there’s Julius Randle, who is expected to play after taking a nasty fall in the loss to the Atlanta Hawks earlier this week. A much needed newcomer after the departure of DeMarcus Cousins, Randle is growing acclimated to playing in the up-tempo approach of the Pelicans. Randle has hit double figures in scoring in both games so far. He adds an element of size, physicality, and passing in the post.
Knicks-Pelicans is set to tip-off at Madison Square Garden at 7:30 p.m. EST.