Knicks hopeful to gain back key piece before taking on league-worst Detroit

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The New York Knicks are gearing up to take on the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night, but they are still without several key players due to COVID-19 protocols.

With Quentin Grimes, Immanuel Quickley, Miles McBride, and RJ Barrett all still on the Covid list, one player that is capable of returning is Obi Toppin. Suppose Toppin is not experiencing any symptoms from the virus after the 10-day required quarantine. In that case, he will be able to play against Detroit, a good opportunity for him to gain some momentum moving forward.

Toppin was just picking up steam before catching the virus against Toronto, posting 19 points and 10 rebounds in the loss on December 10. In fact, he had strung together two consecutive games of double-digit points, earning 12 combined rebounds.

While the second-year forward has struggled with his three-point shooting this year, hitting just 19.6% of his shots, he’s finally been activated as an electrifying transition player — needed energy off the bench. The effort he displays on both sides of the ball makes him a valuable asset, increasing the pace and forcing teams to make premature decisions, leading to mistakes.

Considering Detroit has won just five games this year, a league-worst record, the 23-year-old forward, could return with a bang, which is exactly what he needs as New York prepares to take on Washington on Thursday and the Atlanta Hawks on Christmas day.

Aside from Toppin, the Knicks are also anticipating the return of RJ Barrett, clearing the 10-day quarantine on Wednesday. They could have him for Thursday and Saturday’s game, giving them an important starter back. Barrett had suffered from a stomach bug before contracting the virus, so getting back into form is a necessity if the Knicks want to push for a playoff spot the season.

Currently, the Knicks are on a seven-game road skid, featuring a 13-17 record. In the Eastern Conference, they are 1.5 games back from a play-in spot for the postseason. The Toronto Raptors currently hold the last play-in seed, but the Knicks have plenty of time left to fight their way back into contention. New York’s schedule lightens just a bit in the coming days, with Detroit, Washington, who is about a .500 team, and the, Hawks who will likely be without Trae Young, having been placed on the Covid list as well.

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