The Knicks, losers of seven straight, have the first game of a back-to-back in sunny California against the Clippers, winners of five straight.

The New York Knicks (25-38) travel to the Crypto.com Arena to face the Los Angeles Clippers (34-31). This will be the second matchup of the season between the two teams, with the Knicks victorious in their January 23rd matchup 110-102. New York currently sits eighth in the lottery standings, losers of 15 of their last 17 games, while Los Angeles, winner of five in a row, continues to fight for their playoff lives, sitting comfortably in the eighth slot in the Western Conference.

The Knicks are in the midst of an ugly free-fall. Losers of their last seven games and moving further and further away from a play-in position, the Knicks are going to have to hope that this lost season is one that can hopefully shape the franchise for the better.

RJ Barrett continues to play well and add elements to his game. Even after a so-so game against Philadelphia, Barrett came back in the home-and-home series against the Sixers and played well. He’s continuing to grow into a player who should have some All-Star buzz heading into the 2022–23 season. As for the rest of the kids, they’re producing in smaller roles. Solid cameos from Cam Reddish, Jericho Sims, and Immanuel Quickley in recent games have helped cover the fact the Knicks are playing poorly, especially in the second half of games. 

And of course, the Knicks are back into draft talk again. Currently eighth in the lottery odds, New York has 25 wins, with San Antonio and Sacramento “ahead” of them with 24 wins, and Indiana above all three with 22. There’s a legitimate chance for the Knicks to reach top-five odds, which could push them in a position to acquire a premier talent, like Duke’s AJ Griffin or Purdue’s Jaden Ivey, or earn another asset for a potential star trade, in a world where someone becomes available. 

There are still chances and opportunities to do more in this now-lost season. Miles “Deuce” McBride has yet to truly find minutes in the rotation, which could help towards helping New York find a point guard in the absence of Derrick Rose. Sims, who did an honorable job against Joel Embiid, should be in line for more minutes moving forward, as his athleticism lends to him being a viable lob threat on offense and deterrence on defense. 

And New York will continue to navigate this losing season with a Sunday matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers. 

Is it fair to say the Clippers are admirable? Paul George went down with an injury and has only played 26 games this season, Kawhi Leonard has yet to suit up this season after recovering from an ACL injury, and Norman Powell, an excellent in-season acquisition from Portland, went down with an injury just two games into his Clippers tenure. And still, not only does L.A. head coach Ty Lue has this team in the midst of a playoff push, but the team also sits seventh in the league in defensive efficiency.

Los Angeles has navigated this season well without their top three players well. Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson have assumed bigger roles in their stars’ absences, with the occasional big performance to steal them a victory. Luke Kennard has been lights out from the outside this season, giving them someone for defenses to focus on. Terance Mann has been serviceable, but the step forward from the 2021 playoffs hasn’t occurred. Ivica Zubac has been a solid big man, veteran Nicolas Batum has been serviceable off the bench, and Amir Coffey has been a pleasant surprise.

It all adds up to a team that has fought with the likes of the Dallas Mavericks, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Denver Nuggets for a top sixth spot in the West, but Los Angeles’ 26th-ranked offense has kept them largely at the bottom of that group. Good enough to stave off the likes of New Orleans, Sacramento, and their Los Angeles counterpart for the eighth seed, but not good enough to break into that next group. If Powell and George can come back before the playoffs, the Clippers could secure the play-in playoffs seeding and win the mini-tournament, but I’m not seeing anything more than that.

But next season? Look for the Clippers to return to form and regain their status as one of the more formidable teams in the league again.

TKW PRIZEPICKS OF THE NIGHT

The Knicks Wall’s exclusive partnership with PrizePicks presents the picks of the night. Tonight, we’re picking RJ Barrett to hit his “over” on a projected combined 33.5 points, rebounds, and assists. As for the Clippers, Reggie Jackson, averaging 24.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 6.8 assists in four games since the All-Star break, is the “over” pick on a projected combined 31.5 points, rebounds, and assists.

Use promo code “TKW” and take advantage of a 100% deposit match, up to $100, with The Knicks Wall’s partnership with PrizePicks.

What to Watch 

Cam Reddish minutes: Knicks Twitter almost had a heart attack when Tom Thibodeau subbed Cam Reddish out during a good spell. Reddish has adapted to his time in the rotation and all the tools flash—an expansive floor game, good defensive tools, awareness to attack titled defenses—Reddish looks great. I’m curious to see how Thibs deploys him again, and if he decides to extend the leash a little bit on his spot in the rotation. 

Immanuel Quickley resurgence: After about a three-week dry spell, Immanuel Quickley is back to hitting threes and looking like rookie year Quickley. Personally, I would love to see him get more on-ball reps, but Thibodeau will have to balance the ball-handler responsibilities with an emerging RJ Barrett offensively. Either way, Quickley continuing to shoot and remain in Thibodeau’s graces is a good thing. 

Tanking Thibodeau: At this stage, Tom Thibodeau can’t help himself. The same things that have helped him in the past have hurt his current Knicks tenure. He’s been excellent for New York’s tank, between keeping two centers in the rotation, Alec Burks as the starting point guard, and leaning on veterans at the worst times, I look forward to Thibodeau mismanaging another game this season.

Injury Report

Kemba Walker, Derrick Rose, and Quentin Grimes remain out. Obi Toppin will miss his second straight game with a strained hamstring.

Tip-off is set for 10 p.m. ET, broadcasting on ESPN, MSG Network, and Bally Sports SoCal.

 

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