Taking a breath from a potentially devastating Kevin Knox ankle injury, the Knicks have to fly out to Milwaukee and take on the 2-0 Bucks—led by Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The New York Knicks are back in action on Monday night as they look to bounce back from a pair of tough weekend losses. The Knicks lost back-to-back games to crosstown rival Brooklyn and Eastern Conference favorite Boston by two points each on Friday and Saturday and will try to regroup on the road, as they head over to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks.
It won’t be an easy task for the Knicks, who will be getting their first look at Milwaukee this season. Last year, the Bucks swept the Knicks during the regular season, winning all four meetings. Overall, the Bucks have dominated the head-to-head series between the two teams in recent years, boasting a 12-3 record over the Knicks since 2014.
David Fizdale will have an opportunity to change that narrative, as he leads his Knickerbockers to Milwaukee for the first time as the New York head coach.
However, he will have a couple of glaring issues to address on Monday.
The No Knox Factor
The first will be Kevin Knox’s injury. While there was a collective sigh of relief in realizing that it wasn’t a long-term, devastating injury, it is a bit of a setback for the 19-year-old rookie. Knox seemed like he was starting to get his footing under him as an NBA player. Against Brooklyn, he had his best showing on the floor since Summer League, scoring 17 points and grabbing six rebounds. He shot 7-of-14 overall, including a 3-for-4 performance from long range.
On Saturday night against the Celtics, however, his outing was cut short as he sustained an injury driving to the basket late in the first quarter. Fortunately for him and the Knicks, MRIs and x-rays revealed that the injury was no more than just an ankle sprain and that will sideline him for a few weeks.
While Trier has gained notoriety for his play throughout the preseason and the first few games of the regular season, this is looking like a big opportunity for Dotson.
Dotson, who was a bit of a forgotten man in the Knicks’ rotation last season, got his first share of extended minutes after Knox went down in the Knicks-Celtics game. It was his first bit of NBA action for the 2018–19 season after logging a pair of DNPs to start the year, and he responded in a big way.
Knicks cut it to two!! pic.twitter.com/vSqtJfFzdm
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) October 21, 2018
The former second-round pick scored 10 points, grabbed two rebounds, dished out two assists, and had two steals through 22 minutes of action. He knocked down back-to-back threes in a timely fashion to cap off a second quarter surge for the Knicks that brought them back within range with the Celtics, setting up a close contest in the second half.
Expect him to receive an uptick in minutes, and for Dotson, alongside Trier and a glass cleaning Noah Vonleh to lead the charge from the bench for the Knicks–supplementing the solid play of starters like Tim Hardaway Jr. and double-double machine Enes Kanter.
The second issue for Fizdale to prepare for is this undefeated, 2-0 Milwaukee Bucks team led by All-Star Giannis Antentokounmpo.
Antentokounmpo was more than a problem for the Knicks last season. The “Greek Freak” was a catalyst in three of the four Milwaukee victories against New York last season (he sat out the final meeting in April). Each time he took the court against the Knicks last year, he finished with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. He also dished out at least five assists in two of those meetings, as well as stuffed his stat sheet with blocks and steals. It’s no secret that he is a matchup problem for opponents, standing in at 6-foot-11 and 242 pounds. His versatility will be a stiff test for a young Knicks squad that has to slow him down. So far this season, it seems like he hasn’t missed a single step.
Also keep an eye out for Khris Middleton, who has been shooting the ball very well as of late—even since the first game of preseason. Middleton shot over 50 percent from deep in his three preseason games and is also a combined 8-of-15 so far in the regular season. He’s another versatile, long, two-way player.
It will be interesting to see how these Knicks respond to losing back-to-back games and how they’ll deal with Milwaukee. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m. EST.