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Knicks vs. Thunder - Game Preview

R.J. Barrett and the Knicks hope to start a winning streak vs. the young Thunder and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.



Photo By: Stephen Maturen (Getty Images North America)


Game Information:

Matchup: Thunder (5-7) at Knicks (6-6)

Location: Madison Square Garden, New York NY

Time: 12:00pm ET/11:00am CT

Watch: MSG Network


Injury Report:

NYK:

Mitchell Robinson - Out (sprained knee)


OKC:

Darius Bazley - Out (ankle)

Chet Holmgren - Out (foot)

The Knicks hope to build off a solid win against the Pistons with another win this afternoon vs. the up-and-coming Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder will be without their 2nd overall pick from the 2022 Draft, Chet Holmgren. As he's out for the season with a lisfranc injury he sustained during the offseason. So while it may be relatively the same team we saw last year from the Thunder, a bunch of their players made big improvements. Like their All-Star caliber Point Guard, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Who is averaging 30.5 PPG this season.



Tonight's Knicks Storyline - Will They Play Down to Competition?

Friday's game against the Pistons should've been an easy win for New York. With Cade Cunningham out and the Pistons struggling, the defense should've shut them down. But the game was close for a while, even until the last minute. The stars played nice, with Barrett scoring 30 and Brunson adding 26. But the defense allowed former Knick Alec Burks to score 17 off the bench. That can't happen today, especially with a weak Thunder bench, who are 24th in bench points this year.


The Thunder have a few nice scoring options in Shai, Josh Giddey, and Tre Mann. Their defense is solid too, with Lu Dort, Aleksej Pokusevski, and Kenrich Williams. But they lack size down low. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is a decent defender and solid enough on the block. But Hartenstien and Randle should have a field day against the Thunder paint defense.


Who to Stop - Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

It's quite obvious that Shai is their entire offense. He gets the most touches per game, scores the most, gets the most attempts, has the most assists, etc. But RJ on Shai and bring good help defense. I'll allow their secondary guys to attempt a few threes, with their 3PT% 29th in the league so far. Outside of SGA, the Thunder offense lacks anything special. So please, get it out of his hands.



Key of the Game - Paint Offense

The Thunder are 22nd in paint defense. And as I alluded to earlier, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is their only defensive big on the court. Bazley is out tonight too, so they lack size down low. And while Pokusevski is lanky and can get a block or two, his perimeter game is so atrocious that he may not even be on the court for more than 15 minutes this afternoon. Just give the ball to Brunson and let him attack, and dish off to Hart or a cutting Randle.

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