The New York Knicks begin a brief two-game road trip Tuesday, starting with a date against the bottom-tier Orlando Magic.
This will be the second matchup between these two teams this season, with the first being all the way back on Oct. 24, a game in which the Knicks won comfortably 115-102 at Madison Square Garden.
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The Knicks must take advantage of their favorable matchup
After going on an impressive 4-3 stretch run that included victories over the Cavs, Celtics, Heat, and 76ers, the Knicks finally have a matchup that is in their favor on Tuesday.
The Magic are 22-32 on the season, good enough for a lowly 13th-seed placement in the Eastern Conference standings. Despite their overall struggles this season, they are 17-15 since Dec. 1, led by their young prodigies of Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner.
Therefore, the Knicks will still have to deal with a difficult matchup despite the record disparity.
Banchero, last year’s no. 1 overall pick and essentially a lock to win this season’s Rookie of The Year award, is averaging 20/6/3 on the season and has established himself as Orlando’s future star.
Banchero versus Knicks’ Julius Randle should be a fun matchup, as Banchero has drawn comparisons to the two-time All-Star with regard to their respective play styles. Both are marketed as elite offensive forwards and can score at all three levels on the floor.
Wagner, in his second year in the NBA, is averaging 19.5 points per game and is shooting 48.6% from the field and 36.9% from outside the arc while also being tabbed as one of the better young two-way players in the league right now.
Another set of big performances from Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle will be the catalysts for the Knicks if they expect to win Tuesday. The Knicks have pulled a string of impressive victories and almost-victories over the past week, so New York should be able to handle Orlando with ease, even with their solid young pieces.
The Knicks also have the advantage of being on the road, as they are 15-11 away from their home floor this season compared to 14-15 at home. The Magic are just 13-13 on their home court this season, which is just the 24th best in the NBA.
Looking at injuries, RJ Barrett (non-COVID illness) is questionable, and Mitchell Robinson (thumb surgery) is out for the Knicks. For the Magic, Mo Bamba (suspension) and Chuma Okeke (knee) are both out.
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