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Game Preview: Knicks vs. Timberwolves- 01/18/22

Looking to bounce back against the West’s ninth seed.

New York Knicks v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The bruises are still fresh from yesterday’s matinee beat-down by the Hornets, and tonight the New York Knicks (22-22) host the Minnesota Timberwolves (21-22) in another tough tilt.

The Knicks are 6-4 in their last ten games, and their cold-weather foes are 5-5. This marks their second and final meeting of the regular season. New York won their first clash in December, 96-88, buoyed by a 14-point, 18-rebound performance from Mitchell Robinson. The Knicks were aided by an abundance of MIA Timberwolves, including Anthony Edwards, Taurean Prince, D’Angelo Russell, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jarred Vanderbilt, and McKinley Wright. Minnesota’s Malik Beasley dropped 20 points.

Charlotte plays fast, but so do the T-Wolves, currently ranked fourth in pace. The Knicks are ranked thirtieth, played a step slow against the Hornets, and probably will against Los Lobos, too. Unlike yesterday’s opponent, Minnesota turns the ball over often enough to rate twenty-seventh in the league. The Knicks would be wise to make hay when the Wolves throw the ball away. And make their free throws, too.

Tip-off’s at 7:30 p.m., true believers.

PROJECTED STARTERS

Playing in his seventh season, D’Angelo Russell can score (18.6 ppg), steer the offense (7.1 apg), and deliver the occasional clutch dagger. Then there are nights when the 6’4”, 193 lbs Ohio State man is aloof on defense and a doof on offense. DLo is shooting 35% from the perimeter and 40% from the field.

The Depth Chart lists Patrick Beverley as the lead point guard, but he shares playmaking duties with DLo. Pat Bev has averaged 9.1 points and 5.1 assists in his tenth campaign. You know him: he’s an irritant. Assuming that Kemba Walker sits again tonight, look for steadfast Alec Burks to be the Knicks’ nominal point guard and unfazed by Beverley’s antics.

Anthony Edwards is thick, fast, and would compete as easily on the gridiron as he does on the hardwood. Beware the Ant-Man with a head of steam. The 2020 Draft’s first selection has averaged 22.2 points and 5.2 rebounds. His counterpart, RJ Barrett had played well heading into yesterday’s fart-fest, only to contribute significantly to the stink-show. Perhaps Edwards will stimulate RJ’s competitive spirit and the Maple flowing again.

Power forward Jarred Vanderbilt (6’ 9”, 214 lbs) has averaged 9.2 rebounds and 6.7 points in 26 minutes per game this season. The 22-year old ranks in the 96 percentile for deflections with 3.9 per game, the 84 percentile for rim defense, and took 19 boards from Houston recently. Julius Randle has the advantage of muscle and experience over his fellow Kentucky alum, however. Thumbs up tonight.

Karl-Anthony Towns is the living embodiment of a beast from Where the Wild Things Are. He scarfed up 25.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in his last 10 games. On the season, the 6’ 11”, 248 lbs Jersey boy is shooting 41% from long range and attempting 5.5 triples per game. Mitchell Robinson, bring your running shoes.

PREDICTION

Any chance of Cam Reddish (ankle sprain) playing tonight? Zilch. But the countdown is on.

New York is .500 again and stuck in that undignified, outside-the-playoff-picture eleventh seed. Minnesota sits in ninth place in the West despite owning essentially the same record.

ESPN gives Minny a 58.5% chance of winning this one. That sounds reasonable. It would be nice to rinse away the residue of the Charlotte game with a win against a qualified foe, though, and carry some momentum into Thursday’s contest versus New Orleans. A focused Knicks’ squad will keep it close tonight.

Manhattan, NYC. 7:30 p.m. on MSG and NBA TV. Knock ’em out, Knicks!