clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Preview of the Knicks’ upcoming week, Jan. 14-20

A four-game homestand, including a rematch with two beloved departeds.

Toronto Raptors v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

This week, the New York Knicks (23-16) will mount a four-game homestead of all winnable games. Win all four and the Knicks will finish the week with another five-game streak. First, they’ll have to get past a tricky Houston team and then two newly-minted Toronto Raptors who will be majorly motivated to spoil New York’s run. Let’s peek at the schedule. [Correction: the Raptors game will be played at MSG.]

Knicks vs Magic, Monday, 3PM EST, January 15, 2024

When they last met, the Knicks were defeated by the Orlando Magic, 117 to 108, on December 29. Julius Randle had 38 points to lead all scorers.

Since then, the offensively-challenged Disneys (21-18) have lost the momentum of their early season success and won only two of eight games. During this recent stretch, Paolo Banchero has averaged 28.5 points, eight rebounds, and 6.3 assists, and continues to pull his weight. Franz Wagner has missed five games with an ankle injury, and Markelle Fultz, Gary Harris, Joe Ingles, and Wendell Carter, Jr. are all out, too. Look for New York to settle the score in the MLK matinee and collect their seventh win of the calendar year.

Knicks vs Rockets, Wednesday, 7:30 PM EST, January 17, 2024

This season, New York has yet to face Ime Udoka’s Houston Rockets (19-19). Their new coach has the team playing stalwart defense—sixth-best in the league—but their offense needs work. They rate 21st in the league on that front, and work hard to put up 112.7 points per game, shooting 46% from the floor and 36% from deep.

Turkish center Alperen Şengün is having a very nice season, leading the team in points, 21.7, and boards, 8.9. I’ll be focused on how he competes against Knicks’ big man, Isaiah Hartenstein. Recently named the Western Conference Player of the Week, Şengün also ranks second for assists on the team with 4.8, behind Fred VanVleet’s 8.6.

The Dream Shakes have talent on their roster, including Dillon Brooks, Jabari Smith, Jr., and Tari Eason. Young gun Jalen Green barely edges out FVV for second-most points on the team, with 17.4. Despite their 19-19 record, this ain’t a team to take likely, Knickerbockers.

Knicks vs Wizards, Thursday, 7:30 PM EST, January 18, 2024

New York has beaten the Washington Wizards (7-31) twice this season, 120-99 and 121-105. Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson combined for 72 points in the game on January 6.

The Wiz have lost eight of their last ten, which includes the most recent Knicks game. During that period, Kyle Kuzma has averaged 20.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 4.1 assists. He continues to be their most consistent player. [Insert some mean-spirited but veiled as light-hearted jabs at Jordan Poole here.] A playoff-bound team will most certainly give a decent pitch for a Kuz trade before the trade deadline.

Over his last ten games, Daniel Gafford has averaged 9.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and two blocks. He’s a 6’10”, 230-pounder who could give the Knicks positive back-up minutes filling in behind either Randle or Isaiah Hartenstein. Gafford’s the guy I will watch closely in this tilt, the second of a back-to-back.

And it will be fun to see how Julius Randle responds to Deni Avdija’s ridiculous comments about him: “For me, he’s not that tough to guard.” Let’s find out, Deni!

Knicks vs Raptors, Saturday, 7:30 PM EST, January 20, 2024

Ahh, the one you’ve been waiting for. Keep the Kleenex handy.

Since being traded by the Knicks to the Toronto Raptors, Immanuel Quickley has averaged 18.6 points, 5.3 assists, and 4.4 rebounds in seven games. IQ has shot 50% on six three-point attempts per game and averages five assists and 30 minutes. RJ Barrett has averaged 19.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in his seven games for the Raptors. He, too, is shooting 50% from downtown, taking 4.3 attempts.

Meanwhile, the centerpiece of the trade coming back to New York, OG Anunoby, has averaged 14.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in seven games for the Knicks.

Comparing the stats for IQ and RJ to OG, Precious Achiuwa, and Malachi Flynn might convince you that the Knicks lost the trade. Not quite. In the past seven games, New York has allowed a league-best 101.3 points per game. In December, with RJ and IQ in the rotation, their defensive rating was a league-worst 123.6. The difference from then to now is stark.

The offense runs more productively, too, with Jalen Brunson racking up assists since the trade and Anunoby adding a legitimate shooting threat for better floor spacing.

There are no hard feelings from the fanbase—most of us, at least—as this is exemplary of a win-win trade. In fact, to see our homegrown kids wearing the Raptor red against the venerable orange and blue will bring a tear. The misty sentiments will dissipate through the first half, however. You can bet we’ll be cheering the Knickerbockers to victory down the stretch.

Have a happy, healthy week. And go Knicks!