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Game Preview: Knicks vs. Magic, 3/18/2021

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Please no Terrence Ross... Please no Terrence Ross... Please no Terrence Ross... Please no Terrence Ross... Please no...

Orlando Magic v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

After two rugged losses it’s time to get back to work. Thankfully a little home cooking probably helped the Knicks lick their wounds and get ready for tonight’s matchup with Orlando. The Magic, meanwhile, are bordering on looking like Prince Philip “leaving” the hospital after “successful” heart surgery.

Prince Philip Departs King Edward VII’s Hospital In London Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage

Yea. You’ll be back. Losers of eight consecutive, four games behind the play-in group, with several key players injured and trade winds swirling around them; it’s starting to feel like the Magic may want to rewire this doohickey.

All that being said, the Knicks are in eighth, a measly half-game out of sixth, with the Raptors, Bulls and Pacers nipping at their heels. Some injury issues, potential roster flux and having split their games with Orlando so far- getting blown out by Terrence Ross almost singlehandedly once- they better be ready to crunch these punks. Or punk these crumbs. Or cramp these vamps. Or punch these gramps. Whatever, it doesn’t matter. They need to be ready to play from the opening tip and sprint through the finish!

New York Knicks v Orlando Magic Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Projected Starters

Like I said, the Magic have been shredded by the injury boll weevil and much of who’s available tonight is in flux. With Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz long since out, Cole Anthony still quite a ways away and James Ennis nursing a calf injury, the Magic also have a group of questionable guys. Evan Fournier (groin), Terrence Ross (knee) and Aaron Gordon (ankle) all are subject to sit. That could leave the Magic a little on the thin side.

Immanuel Quickley v Michael Carter-Williams

Reggie Bullock v Dwayne Bacon

RJ Barrett v Chuma Okeke

Julius Randle v Al-Farouq Aminu

Nerlens Noel v Nikola Vucevic

The Knicks are sporting the ascending maladies of Derrick Rose out (COVID), Elfrid Payton doubtful (hamstring) and Immanuel Quickley questionable (ankle). Mitchell Robinson also remains out but is back to practice and is allowed to take contact! That means he’ll be returning soon if there are no setbacks. Certainly getting a winnable game like tonight’s would help the Knicks play it safe with Mitch and let him be fully healed beyond the shadow of a doubt. That would be my personal preference.

New York Knicks v Orlando Magic Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Keys & Predictions

If the Magic do indeed sit all the questionable players, they’ll have a strange unit on the court that has three bigs who like to dot the perimeter and two guards that like to rush the rim. The Knicks big guards like to funnel their marks into even bigger forwards at the rim, so that could spell some trouble on the kick out. New York will have to know when to let someone go and be crispy closing to the shooters.

The big fella in the middle, Vucevic, is the main doo doo stain to be concerned with though. As he can go inside or outside on offense, manhandling the thin Nerlens Noel will probably be their key to the game. Good luck with that. And good luck with Al-Farouq Aminu bottling up the strongest man in the NBA.

You know who I mean. Julius Randle, who has the functional strength of a musk ox, is coming for your fucking head.

Game is at 7:30, Knicks by -21

New York Knicks v Orlando Magic Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Parting Shot

The matchup at the pivot needs to be neutralized. Coach Thibodeau will tell you, it all starts with defense.

Orlando Magic v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images