Julius Randle, Knicks left fuming as Nets escape in rivalry game

In a rivalry game that had a lot of twists and turns, James Johnson emerged as the unlikely hero.

The defensive-minded forward Johnson canned a pair of pressure-packed free throws with 2.2 seconds left that allowed the Brooklyn Nets to escape with a 112-110 win over the New York Knicks Tuesday night at Barclays Center.

Kevin Durant wisely milked the clock and found a wide-open Johnson who drove to the basket and fished a foul from Knicks center Mitchell Robinson. Evan Fournier missed a prayer at the buzzer as the Knicks’ first game without Kemba Walker in the rotation had a promising start but ended in heartbreak.

Randle charged at the official fuming after the loss.

“I’m not going to talk about [the officiating], I’m going to talk about the game, what the players are out there doing,” Randle said. “I’m not going to talk about [the referees] because they clearly don’t understand the game.”

The rest of the Knicks points guards — Alec Burks, Derrick Rose, and Immanuel Quickley — took turns in guiding the Knicks’ offense. After a hiccup in the middle quarters, the Knicks looked poised for a win when they stormed back from a 16-point third-quarter deficit.

An Obi Toppin dunk gave the Knicks a three-point lead, 98-95, midway in the fourth quarter. Then Kevin Durant carried the Nets on his back, firing 11 points down the stretch.

After the game, Durant said he wanted to take Randle one-on-one for the last shot, but Rose who came to double him, scuttled his plan. Luckily for Brooklyn, Johnson was up to the task.

Durant started the game with an ugly 2 for 9 shooting from the floor. He came back with a vengeance in the second half. Durant had 21 points on 7 of 14 shooting, mainly against Randle, who was hit with a crucial technical foul with 1:36 left.

Durant sank the bonus free throw to extend the Nets’ lead to three. After a Randle-Durant back-and-forth, Evan Fournier fired a game-tying triple with 17.7 seconds left off the Knicks’ final timeout. It turned out to be the Knicks’ last stand.

Burks led the Knicks with a new season-high 25 points, eclipsing his 23-point game in his first start in Atlanta two nights ago. Rose dropped a 16-point, 9-assist gem off the bench in his return from sickbay while Quickley added 12 points.

The trio’s production negated James Harden’s 34-point performance that came with 10 rebounds and eight assists.

Harden went 9 for 10 from the line. Durant was a perfect 10 for 10. The Nets took 25 free throws, 13 more than the Knicks, which had New York coach Tom Thibodeau also upset during his postgame interview.

“My thoughts overall, we did a lot of good things. We didn’t close it out. I want to take a look at the film,” Thibodeau said. “There’s a big discrepancy in free throws. I can tell you that. Julius is driving the ball and he gets 2 free throws?”

Even with Randle taking only one-fifth of Harden and Durant’s free throw rate, he still came up with 24 points on 11 of 22 shots.

If there was another silver lining from this loss, it was Randle’s return to his All-NBA form.

Randle flirted with a triple-double as he added nine rebounds, eight assists, and two steals.

With 3:30 left in the second quarter, Randle held the ball at the right elbow. He sized up Durant.

A day earlier, Randle proclaimed Durant is the best player in the league.

“Have you even seen a 7-footer with that skill? He can do anything on the court,” said Randle after Monday’s practice. “No weakness.”

Hyped up in their matchup, Randle poked a hole in Durant’s armor.

Randle took a jab step. And in one quick motion with little hesitation, he lost Durant. Randle attacked the basket with Durant trailing. LaMarcus Aldridge came to help. It was too late.

Randle completed a three-point play off Durant’s foul. He added two more baskets off Durant.

The Knicks held a 61-60 lead at the half after blowing an eight-point lead in the opening quarter.

Randle dominated Durant in the first half. But Durant had the last laugh. And Randle went home fuming.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

After UFC release, what’s next for Kevin Lee?

Today there was stunning news in the UFC. Former interim title challenger and top lightweight contender Kevin Lee (18-7) was released by the promotion. MMA Fighting was the first to report the release earlier this afternoon.

The news seemingly came out of no where. Recently, we learned that Lee was given a suspension for taking ADHD medication. The offense gave Lee a six month suspension that he’s currently serving.

This suspension came on the heels of back to back losses for the Motown Phenom. A few years ago, Kevin Lee looked like he could become a star for the UFC. After Lee defeated Michael Chiesa, his stock really took off.

Lee was 16-2 and after having a verbal back and forth with Tony Ferguson, the UFC gave Lee an interim title shot against El Cucuy. When they fought at UFC 216, Lee started out doing very well.

However, he ultimately gassed and was submitted by Ferguson. Starting with that loss, Lee has gone 2-5 in his last seven fights. After the recent skid and the issues with USADA, the UFC decided to part ways.

After UFC release, what’s next for Lee?

As mentioned, the Lee release caught many off guard and you can imagine that the former UFC title challenger will be a hot name on the free agent market. My guess is that Lee’s reps have already been reached out to by Bellator and PFL.

Lee’s brother currently fights for Bellator so that could be a spot for him. However, I think we might end up seeing Lee join the PFL. There’s no inside information here, it’s simply a hunch.

The PFL has been really trying to add to their lightweight division over the past couple of years. Former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis signing with them sent waves throughout MMA.

I can really see PFL going hard after Lee to try and secure him for their 2022 lightweight season. By the time the season rolls around, Lee’s suspension will be up and he will be ready to fight.

Report: Yankees expressing interest in Rays’ outfielder via trade

Kevin Kiermaier, yankees

The New York Yankees have been extremely quiet the past few days in free agency, but they are expressing interest in several trade opportunities. On Tuesday, Lindsay Adler of The Athletic reported that the Bombers are intrigued by Tampa Bay Rays’ outfielder Kevin Kiermaier.

Kiermaier is on the record for saying, “we don’t like them, they don’t like us,” after tensions rose last season between the two teams. The Yankees and Rays have had their fair share of intense competitions, but they may be looking to replace some outfield depth with a potential deal.

Kiermaier is 31-years-old with a lefty bat, giving him a bit more diversity in the batting order. He signed a $53.5 million deal over six years back in 2017 but has a 2023 club option after next season. He’s preparing to earn $8.9 million this upcoming year after hitting .259 with four homers and 37 RBIs.

The dependable outfielder has been relatively healthy the past three seasons, showcasing a bit more patience at the plate over the past two years and sufficient offensive qualities. He’s not a primary slugger, more often relying on contact-hitting to get by.

However, Kiermaier is a phenomenal defensive centerfielder. This past year, he recorded a .996 fielding percentage over 894 innings in the outfield. He would offer incredible prowess in the outfield, moving quickly and efficiently, rarely making a mistake.

With Aaron Hicks proving to be a liability due to inconsistent health, Kiermaier would offer the team a dependable option they can rely on daily if need be. Having produced a 10.3 fWAR over the last five seasons, Kevin is arguably the best defensive outfielder in baseball.

Nonetheless, the Yankees would have to execute a trade for his services. A deal could include a few middling prospects, as the Rays may want to get his money off the books since his 2022 salary is guaranteed. However, it is possible they don’t like the idea of trading one of their players to the Yankees, which is also a reasonable stalling point.

Report: Knicks looking to trade Kemba Walker after being dropped from rotation

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau elected to drop veteran point guard Kemba Walker from the rotation over the weekend, indicating that Alec Burks would remain the team’s starting point guard moving forward.

After Burks contributed 23 points against the Atlanta Hawks and helped the starting unit play at a far more efficient level, Thibodeau was forced to make a decision regarding Walker. Kemba was virtually useless as a defender, disrupting the identity of the Knicks, something that Thibodeau couldn’t sit by and watch.

“It’s a tough decision to make, but you always have to do what you think is best for the team,” Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters following the team’s practice on Monday.

However, the Knicks don’t want Walker’s skill set to go to waste, as they will likely consider trading him before February 10 deadline.

According to A. Sherrod Blakely of Bleacher Report, the Knicks will look to move Walker before the deadline in February:

Multiple league sources believe the Knicks will look to trade Walker, whose value on the trade market, much like his production, is at an all-time low.

However, league sources believe Walker’s value has the potential to change as the Knicks get closer to the Feb. 10 trade deadline and teams get more desperate to add a veteran who, despite his defensive shortcomings, has shown he can still make shots, albeit in a more limited capacity.

Walker’s regular-season statistics average out at 11.7 points, 3.1 assists, 42.9% shooting from the field, and 41.3% from three-point range. However, those numbers are quite misleading, as, in the month of November, he’s shooting just 29.6% from deep and 39% from the field. He’s recorded just four double-digit point games out of 12, making him a non-factor.

However, the most grueling statistic is that of his defense. When Walker is on the court, the Knicks have the worst defense in the entire league, but when he is off it, they have the top-ranked unit in the NBA. Specifically, the Knicks are allowing 99 points over 100 possessions when Walker is on the bench, but 116.3 when he’s on the floor. Offensively, it doesn’t get much better, ranking 27th in offensive production with 103 points per 100 possessions when he is playing. However, when he is inactive, the Knicks rank 9th with 110.2 points per 100 possessions.

Ultimately, the statistics speak volumes about his contributions, and if the Knicks want to be a solid team looking to build momentum, they ultimately had to make a difficult choice and drop Walker.

The 2 shortstops the Yankees need to pursue before it’s too late

yankees, trevor story

The New York Yankees have found themselves in a peculiar situation as the free-agent market dwindles with talent. General manager Brian Cashman indicated they would be big spenders this off-season, going as far as to offer Justin Verlander a $25 million deal over one season. However, since that offer, the Yankees have been incredibly silent, waiting for some of the more prominent names to be plucked off the market before diving in headfirst.

There are only two players left that make sense for the Yankees, depending on their willingness to spend big money. With such a strong shortstop market this off-season, Cashman would be foolish not to grab one of the better options. They could settle for a lesser option like Andrelton Simmons of the Minnesota Twins, serving as a stopgap. However, the fans would prefer they go with a more lucrative player.

Two shortstops the Yankees need to make a run at:

1.) Carlos Correa

Of course, the top name on the list is Carlos Correa. Despite Correa’s scandalous nature with a Houston Astros, he’s one of the best shortstops in baseball and would serve as a long-term solution for the Bombers at a spot of weakness.

Correa hit .279 with 26 homers and 92 RBIs this past season, also featuring an 18.1% strikeout rate and 11.7% walk rate, the highest of his career. With a .485 slugging percentage and 134 wRC+, he has not only lived up to his potential as the first overall pick in 2012, but he also exceeded it.

The Astros’ star infielder is also an incredible defensive player, earning a .981 fielding percentage with 11 errors over 1,304 innings this past season. He would upgrade the shortstop spot for the Yankees 10 times over, but he will undoubtedly cost a pretty penny. With Corey Seager landing a 10 year, $325 million deal, Correa may land even higher than that, averaging out at $35-40 million per season.

Ultimately, Cashman still has Aaron Judge and his monster deal to think about, so signing Correa at that price point might be a bit overzealous.

2.) Trevor Story

If the Yankees want to pursue a cheaper option but a talented one nonetheless, Trevor Story could be a suitor. At 29-years-old, Story has spent six seasons with the Colorado Rockies, showcasing quality health over the course of his career. He hit .251 with 24 homers and 75 RBIs this past season but did feature at a 23.4% strikeout rate. Story is also a quality defender, posting a .975 fielding percentage with 14 errors. Correa is the better defensive piece, but Trevor is far more affordable and is still a quality hitter.

However, the concern is that Story won’t be able to replicate his statistics in Yankee stadium, given the thin air in Colorado, helping the ball travel a bit deeper. However, DJ LeMahieu didn’t skip a beat in his move to the Bronx, and he may advocate for the signing of Story, his former teammate.

Do you think the Yankees will sign Correa or Story? Comment here!

New York Yankee Legends: Orlando Hernandez, a leg kick not soon forgotten

orlando hernandez, yankees

The New York Yankees have been blessed with some of the greatest pitchers and players MLB has ever seen. One of those players that has one of the more interesting stories is Orlando Hernandez. Most Yankee fans fondly remember him as just “El Duque.”

This is the story of a young Cuban boy who loved baseball, who the Cuban Government would eventually ban from playing the game he loved. He would take the dangerous route and defect from his homeland, eventually making it to the Bahamas and then to Costa Rica, and finally to the pitching mound of the New York Yankees.

Orlando Hernandez Pedroso was born on October 11, 1965, on the communist island of Cuba. In Cuba, baseball is almost a religion, and most young boys would want to grow up and play for the National team. The Duke, in Spanish El Duque, was no different. He would play ball anywhere where he could find a game. At the age of 27, he would finally get onto the Industriales of Havana. He would pitch well and help the team to the 1992 and 1996 National Championships.

During his time in Cuba, he was 126–47 with 3.05 ERA over his ten-year career in the National Series.

After Cuba got wind of possible ties to an American agent, the Cuban Government left him off the Olympic roster. Orlando was detained and questioned about his possible American ties. Afterward, he would be banned from playing baseball. On Christmas Day 1997, he would defect from Cubs on a leaky raft or boat, according to which you choose to believe. He would defect from the small city of Caibarien. As and his companions were approaching the Florida Straits, they were intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard and be brought to Freeport in the Bahamas, where the group was confined in a facility for illegal immigrants.

The plan was to return the group to Cuba. Different groups lobbied that if returned, they would be subject to severe punishment that would cause them to be allowed into the United States. After a few months in Costa Rica, the New York Yankees would arrange a Visa, and Orlando Hernandez would become a Yankee. Orlando would refuse the deal and instead seek asylum in Costa Rica. As a non-U.S. resident, he was able to negotiate as a free agent.,

In the spring of 1998, he would start his four-year $6.6 million contract. The Yankees would be treated to a dynamic pitcher with an incredible story. They would, for the first time, see a man on the mound that had a delivery that included a leg kick that would cause his left leg to pull all the way up to his shoulder. In his first year, he would be 12-4 with a 3.13 ERA and be fully embraced by the Yankee fans, as he helped them regain the World Championship. In 1999 El Duque would have his best year in the major leagues. He would go 17-9 with 157 strikeouts in 214 innings pitched.

In a famous incident in Yankee history, during a game in June, he would field a ball that would get stuck in his glove. the quick thinking El Duque threw the entire glove, with the ball in it, to first for the out. In the 1999 World Series, Hernandez would be the starting pitcher in game 1 at Turner Field, he would pitch eight innings allowing only 1 run in the Yankees 4-1 win. The Yankees would go on to sweep the series over the Atlanta Braves.

The 2000 season for the Yankees would be disappointing as they would win only 87 games compared to the 114 wins the year before. Hitting was down, and pitching was not as good. El Duque would go 12-13 while being a workhorse. In the ALDS, he would win his game 4-2. In the ALCS, he would win game 3 7-1. He would also win the deciding game six, sending the Yankees to the Subway Worlds Series against the Mets. He would lose his only start in the Series.

Over his first three postseasons from 1998–2000, Hernández performed Exceptionally well, going 8-1 with a 2.23 ERA.
In 2001 and 2002, he would have a record of 12-12 before being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. He would never pitch a game with the Jays, as he had to have surgery for a rotator cuff injury. The Jays would release him. At the start of the 2004 season, he would again be a Yankee signing a one-year contract.

In 2004 he would be back in form and have an 8-2 season while pitching 15 games in the second part of the season due to still rehabbing from his surgery. After the season, he would sign with the Chicago White Sox and go 9-9 on the season. He would then be traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks. There he would go 2-4 in the first two months but would then be traded to the New York Mets, where he would go 18-12 over two years.

In 2008 he would have two surgeries that would not allow him to pitch. With no major league offers, he would play in the minor league system of the Texas Rangers. His velocity and command would begin to fall off, and he would not be called up to pitch with the big team. Holding out again for a place in the major league, he would again sign a minor league deal in July of 2010. During the season, the manager informed him he would not be called up, and Hernandez quit the team.

He would announce his official retirement in August of 2011. A nine-year pitching career is considerably short. However, he can look back at his glory years with the Yankees. After retirement, he would take up residency in Miami, where the now 56-year-old still lives with his common-law wife, dancer Noris Bosch. He is presently a Spanish-speaking sportscaster. The last time fans saw him in pinstripes was during the 2013 and 2014 Old Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium.

New York Yankees: Fans are angry as Yankees sit idly by, ignoring the free agent market

yankees, corey seager

New York Yankee fans are confused, frustrated, and even angry as one after another target or player of interest drops off the market, being scooped up by other teams, even teams within the Yankees’ division.

Most of the confusion arises from the Yankees’ near pledge to improve the team for 2022 by spending big and acquiring players to return the team to championship contention. But instead, what fans have gotten is a front office that has been surprisingly quiet, if not completely dormant, as other teams are picking up quality players with amazing speed.

Just yesterday, two huge free agency monikers dropped off the market, with the big prize, Max Scherzer, going to the crosstown New York Mets and Corey Seager going to the Texas Rangers. Although Scherzer was more of a wish for the Yankees, they were never really in on him due to the projected cost. However, no one would have ever dreamed that he would be signed for $43 million a year, making him the highest-priced starting pitcher in MLB history. The big slap in the face is that he went to the Mets.

At this point, there is no question that the Mets are making moves to bring them to at least an NL East division win, and maybe going to their first World Series since 2015, in which they lost to the Kansas City Royals one game to four. The New York Yankees have not appeared in a World Series game since they won in 2009.

The Yankees were seriously looking at Starling Marte to bolster their center field presence, but that fell through when the Mets scooped him up last week with a four-year contract for a reported $78 million. With the Mets signing Scherzer, they have already spent double the money the Yankees might consider spending. If that isn’t a statement, I don’t know what is.

The other big name off the market yesterday was shortstop Corey Seager, who went to the Texas Rangers for a reported $325 million for 10 years. Not only is he no longer available to the Yankees, but that contract sets the bar for the only other huge name on the shortstop market, Carlos Correa, who presently remains unsigned. With that likely cost, the Yankees will not be contending for him.

Another big name now off the Yankees’ radar is former Blue Jays’ co-ace Robbie Ray, who went to the  Seattle Mariners for three years at $115 million. In return, the Blue Jays signed another Yankee pitcher of interest, Kevin Gausman, to a 5-year deal worth $110 million. What may be surprising to Yankee fans, as well as the front office, who’re watching other teams spend insane amounts of money.

Whether you believe the Yankees are being cheap, or Hal Steinbrenner won’t let loose of the purse, you can’t blame the Yankees for not signing any long-term, big-money contracts like the ones that seem to dominate the free agency market. After all, the Yankees are mulling a contract extension for star Aaron Judge that will be costly, and already have two monster contracts to pay to ace Gerrit Cole and the remaining huge contract for Giancarlo Stanton. Most of these contracts are being signed by teams that couldn’t contend last season, and don’t already have huge contracts on their rosters.

Although there may be some action today, and before the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires tomorrow night, it looks like general manager Brian Cashman will have to work his magic, like he did with DJ LeMahieu, as only some crumbs are going to be left over.

Yankees release slugger: Chris Gittens will reportedly play in Japan

chris gitten, yankees

During the 2021 season, when the New York Yankees were struggling to get reliable production from their first basemen, they tried one under-the-radar name to see if he could at least be average offensively. He couldn’t quite achieve that feat, even though he had excellent numbers at Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

Chris Gittens couldn’t honor his nickname: “Hard Hittin’” slashed just .111/.250/.194 in 16 games and 44 plate appearances, with a home run and a 33 wRC+ (weighted Runs Created Plus), were 100 is considered average production.

Now, the Yankees are, per The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler, releasing him so he can have the opportunity to get some playing time elsewhere.

Adler reported that “Yankees released 1B Chris Gittens, per their transaction page. My understanding is that Gittens intends to play in Japan.”

He couldn’t produce with the Yankees, but will try to do it in Asia

Gittens, who is 27 years old, was scorching hot in Triple-A, slashing .301/.440/.644 with 14 homers in 184 plate appearances. His wRC+ was an impressive 185. He produces lots of groundballs, but he has the potential to perform in a league like Japan.

Gittens was taken by the Yankees in the 2014 MLB Draft, in the 12th round. In two separate occasions, he has eclipsed the 20-homer barrier in the minor leagues. The Bombers, however, couldn’t give him an extended look.

Yankees hitting coordinator Dillon Lawson said, according to NJ Advance Media, that Gittens’ power is “pretty freaking special.”

“When you’re in the company of (Aaron) Judge and (Gary) Sanchez and (Giancarlo) Stanton and (Joey) Gallo — the top five in the world in exit velocity — all of those guys are one of one. It’s impressive. He’s a big leaguer, it’s certainly just a matter of when that happens.”

It looks like “Hard Hittin’ Chris Gittens” will be taking his talents to Japan, where he should receive more of a chance, like he deserves.

Who will Conor McGregor face in his UFC return?

Conor McGregor, UFC

The biggest star in the UFC is getting closer and closer to returning. Conor McGregor (22-6) is still recovering after he broke his leg in his last fight against Dustin Poirier (28-6, 1 NC) back in July. The fight was the third installment of the rivalry between the two men.

With McGregor losing by doctor stoppage at UFC 264, McGregor went 0-2 against Poirier this year after winning their first fight. However, there are a lot of questions still surrounding the rivalry especially with the way the third fight ended.

McGregor took to his Twitter account over the weekend to answer some fans questions. Of course, many UFC fans were wanting to know when he would be making his return to the octagon.

In a response, McGregor said that he would resume full MMA sparring in April with a UFC return imminent at that point. Given that information, we should probably expect a McGregor return in the early summer months.

McGregor’s UFC return

When Conor McGregor is ready to return, the UFC is going to have some decisions to make. Who will the promotion pair him up against when he returns? McGregor has publicly said that he wants to fight for the title upon his return.

However, I just don’t know how realistic that option is. With that, what are some more realistic options for The Notorious one. I think the first obvious choice would be the trilogy fight with Nate Diaz (20-13).

McGregor and Diaz are both massive stars and they are currently 1-1 after two fights. This would get McGregor back into the swing of things against a big time opponent and it’s a winnable fight for him.

This would be the smart play in my opinion. Of course, there’s the outside chance that he comes right back to a fourth fight with Dustin Poirier. While the UFC could do this, I think they should hold off for now.

Another option to watch out for is Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13). Both men are former UFC lightweight champions and they have beef. They were supposed to fight years ago, but RDA pulled out with an injury.

They have had backstage run-ins and neither man likes each other. This could be another route the UFC could go. If I had to guess in terms of the likelihood, I would say it goes: Diaz, RDA, Poirier.

3 keys for the Knicks to dismantle strong Nets team

julius randle, james harden, knicks

The New York Knicks are gearing up to take on the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday evening, just a day after announcing they would be starting Alec Burks as the primary point guard moving forward. With Kemba Walker struggling defensively, the Knicks ultimately had to make a big decision to spark the starting unit.

“It’s a tough decision to make,” Thibodeau said after announcing Kemba Walker would be pulled from the rotation, “but you always have to do what you think is best for the team. … I’ve got great respect for who Kemba is as a person, number one, and all that he’s accomplished in this league.”

Walker has struggled considerably this season, especially in the month of November. When he’s not scoring and facilitating, Walker is virtually useless on the floor, given his poor defense. Head coach Tom Thibodeau relies on discipline and aggressive defense to put pressure on opposing teams, but his team has lost their identity early in the year.
The Knicks will look to mount another victory over Brooklyn after taking down the Atlanta Hawks this past weekend.

Three keys for the Knicks to take down a strong Nets team:

1.) Double Kevin Durant

One of the best scorers in NBA history is Kevin Durant, so stopping him is incredibly difficult. Durant is leading Brooklyn with 28.6 points per game over 35.6 minutes. He’s also contributing 5.4 assists and 7.6 rebounds. When you have a player like Durant who is capable of driving to the rim but also knocking down three-point shots at an incredible rate, it makes things a bit more difficult.

Durant is hitting 41.1% of the shots from deep and 54.8% from the field, showcasing one of the best all-around scores in the league currently. The Knicks essentially have to double-team him as much as possible and force the Nets’ other players to win the game for them. Without Nicolas Claxton and Blake Griffin being dropped from the rotation, the Knicks have an advantage on the boards, but they have to guard the perimeter well.

2.) Lockdown defense on the perimeter

The Knicks have done a solid job guarding the perimeter the past few weeks, but Brooklyn ranks 2nd in three-point percentage as a team, landing at 37.5%. However, they are only attempting 34.4 per game, good for 20th in the NBA.

Aggressive defense on the perimeter will force Brooklyn to go inside, where they’ve struggled this year. Hopefully, the team will have Nerlens Noel back, who is questionable for the contest. Mitchell Robinson will have to step up and play solid defense and dominate the defensive rebounds.

3.) Hit open shots

The Knicks can’t let opportunities go to waste against Brooklyn. When they have open shots, they need to be knocking them down consistently, otherwise, it will be a long evening. Against Atlanta, New York hit 37.9% from three-point range and 43.9% from the field, holding the Hawks just 24.3% from deep.

When the Knicks are hitting their open looks from range, they’re an incredibly difficult team to beat, especially when their defense is on point. As stated before, limiting Kevin Durant is virtually impossible, but making life incredibly difficult for him is something they can achieve. Hopefully, the newfound reliance on Burks to operate as the starting point guard will increase their production out of the gates.