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Game Preview: Knicks at Bucks- 01/28/22

Traveling to Brew City for a fourth game against the champs.

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Milwaukee Bucks v New York Knicks Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The New York Knicks (23-26) still have Miami Heat footprints on them from Wednesday’s 110-96 loss. Miami’s largest lead was 30 points. Silver-linings-wise, Obi Toppin played well. Cam Reddish, Deuce McBride, and Jericho Sims saw action…late. That’s about it. New York is 4-6 in their last 10, and here comes another tough opponent.

On Friday, the Knicks visit the reigning NBA champions, the Milwaukee Bucks (30-20). This is their final meeting of the season series, led by Milwaukee 2-1. Their last clash was the Quentin Grimes Game, in which @qdotgrimes scored 27 points despite the 112-97 loss. Khris Middleton dropped 24 for the Bucks.

Optimists might find encouragement in Milwaukee’s 115-99 loss to the Cavaliers on Wednesday. The Deer are only 5-5 in their last 10. And Giannis Antetokounmpo has a knee issue, so maybe this is a winnable game?

Ehhh. The Bucks are fourth in the Eastern Conference and a title contender. They can pile on the points and have the eighth-best defensive rating. And a limbless Giannis would still have decent odds of whupping all comers.

Place yer bets. Tip-off’s at 7:30 p.m., Python fans.

PROJECTED STARTERS

In his 13th season, Jrue Holiday’s 18.2 points per game is his fourth-best career average, and his 4.6 rebounds are third best. He tops his team in assists (6.4) and steals (1.5). The man ages like fine wine.

Jrue will probably face Kemba Walker. It won’t be Jalen Brunson or De’Aaron Fox, although a deal announced late next week wouldn’t be a surprise. And it won’t be John Wall, but…could he be in the cards? If the front office craves a playoff spot, then a replacement point guard must be forthcoming. They’re not waiting for Derrick Rose to save another season, right?

Harry Potter villain Grayson Allen is averaging 11.8 points as the starting two guard. The man with the World’s Most Punchable Face (previously John Mayer) will return after being suspended one game for breaking Alex Caruso’s wrist. It’s a perfect karmic balance that three of the league’s nicest guys (Giannis, Jrue, and Khris) play with this goober.

Evan Fournier will probably start for the Knicks. He offered some astute observations after the Heat loss. If Evan doesn’t survive the trade deadline, I’ll always wonder whether New York never utilized him properly and if he wasn’t hamstrung by certain teammates.

All-Star Khris Middleton (20.1/5.6/5.3) will face RJ Barrett, whom I prefer to watch play with Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, and Grimes. Unless it’s benching Kemba, though, Thibs won’t alter the starting five though: “It’s not about who digs the enormous hole, it’s about who does double the work to get us close at the end.” Gotta admit, the seas are getting choppy around Thibodeau island.

Giannis was questionable (knee) on Wednesday night and then went 26 and nine in 29 minutes. The Hellenic Hooper leads the Bucks’ rotation players in minutes (32.7), points (28.6), rebounds (11.3), field goal percentage (53%), free throw attempts (10.8), and pretty much everything else. And those are just team statistics, never mind league rankings. Read Mirin Fader’s book, and you’ll see he’s a high-quality person, too. Always brings a positive attitude, a clear-eyed focus, a balance of humility and confidence. Indefatigable. A natural leader. Real easy to root for.

Julius Randle plays power forward for New York.

Bobby Portis (15.1 ppg, 9.4 rpg) has started 36 games for the Bucks in his seventh season. The Knicks might be thin at the five tonight. Mitchell Robinson looked slow on Wednesday after missing a game due to an ankle sprain. And Nerlens Noel is questionable. Might this be an opportunity for Randle to get some reps at center?

PREDICTION

Irrational or not, I always feel a sliver of hope before every Knicks game. And I’m sick, so a Knicks victory would provide some sweet relief. Tonight, expect New York to be more competitive, especially since they have seen the Bucks three times already and should know what to expect. Knicks win in a single-digit squeaker.

Fiserv Forum. Friday. 10:00 p.m. (WTF???) Give good effort, Knicks!