How the Knicks overcome middle of the road Timberwolves team

julius randle, knicks, evan fournier

The New York Knicks are preparing to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night, coming off a stellar victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Christmas day.

The Knicks feel rejuvenated after gaining several players back from the NBA’s health and safety protocols list. A myriad of players contracted the COVID-19 virus, but the Knicks are nearly at full strength while the Timberwolves are struggling to keep players healthy.

Just one day ago, the Wolves were down Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards, Jarred Vanderbilt, Taurean Prince, and McKinley Wright due to Covid protocols. Both Patrick Beverley and Josh Okogie are expected to make a return barring any lasting symptoms.

Without KAT, Minnesota is down significantly in the frontcourt, providing the Knicks with a significant advantage. In his place, the Timberwolves started Naz Reid, who has posted double-digit points in consecutive games, recording a combined 13 rebounds and three blocks. He has been decent, but the Knicks have a strong interior presence.

Minnesota has one player who’s been lights out recently, Malik Beasley. The 25-year-old shooting guard has posted four consecutive games of double-digit scoring, including 33 in the team’s most recent loss to the Utah Jazz.

Normally, the Timberwolves would be a deep team with solid starters, but the Knicks are catching them at the right time with so many players out and gaining some of their own. RJ Barrett has been working his way back into the starting five after losing some of his stamina due to Covid. Quentin Grimes has helped him ease back into form, enjoying 25 minutes against Atlanta Hawks on Saturday. Grimes finished with 15 points and Barrett nine points, also contributing four assists and three rebounds. He connected on just 1 of 8 shots from three-point range, while Grimes hit 5 of 12.

However, the team has been relying on veteran point guard Kemba Walker to produce offensively after his resurgence from exile. His chemistry with Julius Randle has blossomed nicely over the past few games, as the star power forward posted 25 points and 12 rebounds in the win over Atlanta.

Expect a healthy dose of Walker and further development of the chemistry between the two leaders. While their defense may struggle at times, Randle has committed to playing off Walker’s strengths instead of forcing isolation shots, which will be a benefit for the team.

Beating Minnesota is no easy feat despite being down a number of players. The Timberwolves are the 19th ranked three-point shooting team at 34.2%, and 27th ranked with a 43% field goal success rate.

Overall, Minnesota ranks average to below in those categories, and without their star players, the Knicks should have a solid advantage.

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