In search of their sixth straight win, the New York Knicks begin a six-game homestand with a matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans.
The New York Knicks (30-27) are back in the comfort of Madison Square Garden, where they’ll tip off a six-game stretch at home on Sunday afternoon. The Knicks are entering the contest with considerable momentum, riding a five-game winning streak.
They’ll look to extend their streak against the New Orleans Pelicans (25-31), who they beat this past Wednesday, 116-106. New Orleans enters Sunday’s matchup after back-to-back losses. After losing to the Knicks, they lost a tough one on the road on Friday night against the Washington Wizards in overtime due to a couple of last-second Russell Westbrook free throws.
New York will go for the regular-season series sweep over the Pelicans. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET, and the game will be on ESPN.
Last time out
It was a closely contested game all throughout until the Knicks managed to pull away in the fourth quarter thanks to Alec Burks heating up off the bench and Julius Randle willing New York to victory. The All-Star led the way by scoring 32 points and hit some tough shots. Reggie Bullock helped by chipping in 16 points and played his part in an excellent team-wide three-point shooting display, where the Knicks went 17-of-33 from deep.
Defensively, the Knicks packed it in and looked to key in on New Orleans’ stars Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, who scored 25 and 28 points respectively, but didn’t get much help elsewhere. New York slowed Williamson down and packed it in defensively, but the Pelicans just couldn’t get it going from long range to punish the Knicks’ interior-minded defensive strategy. New Orleans shot just 6-of-28 from deep.
He has been a catalyst all season but during this particular five-game winning streak for the Knicks, Randle has been playing exceptionally well. Since posting a triple-double during an overtime win over the Memphis Grizzlies on April 9th to start the winning streak, he has averaged 34.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game while shooting 48.5% overall and a 42.4% clip from long range in the four games since.
Randle topped things off against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night, when he tied a season-high 44 points and flirted with another triple-double, adding 10 rebounds and seven assists. He also shot particularly well from beyond the arc, where he went 6-of-11.
In Wednesday’s game against the Pelicans, he posted an impressive 32 points, eight rebounds, and five assists, so he’ll be primed for another big game in Sunday’s rematch.
Right back on track, R.J.?
Before Friday’s win over Dallas, R.J. Barrett had been dealing with a bit of a two-game cold-shooting slump, combining for just 13 points and a combined 4-of-21 shooting through New York’s wins over the Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers.
Although it was somewhat overshadowed by Randle’s big Friday night, it appeared to return to form for Barrett. He scored 24 points and grabbed eight boards, and shot 50% overall and from three-point range in the win over the Mavericks.
There was plenty of hype surrounding Barrett and Williamson, the former Duke teammates, facing off on Wednesday. Williamson delivered on his end while it was a quieter game for Barrett. Maybe this time around, the individual duel will live up to the billing.
How far can the Knicks go?
The Knicks’ five-game winning streak is the franchise’s longest since 2014. Although Randle has been carrying a bulk of the scoring load, it’s interesting to see how the Knicks have won during this stretch.
As a team, they shot 50% or higher from long range in each of their last two wins against the Mavericks and Pelicans. Then in the two wins before that, they went ice cold from the perimeter against the Raptors and Lakers, shooting below 26% in both games. Despite that, the Knicks have found a way to win. Their defense remains consistent, especially at the three-point line, which has been their M.O. all season.
Alec Burks, who played a key role in helping the Knicks pull away from the Pelicans with a 21-point outing, is out due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, but Derrick Rose has been a steady contributor off the bench. The Dallas game showed that Tom Thibodeau is experimenting with lineups in Burks’ absence, trying to find a fit. But can the Knicks find a way to make it six in a row?