Knicks lose RJ Barrett due to COVID protocols, leaving team shorthanded Vs Bucks

Alexander Wilson
new york knicks, rj barrett

The New York Knicks were already gearing up to face a formidable competitor in the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday afternoon, but things aren’t getting any easier with RJ Barrett being placed in protocol for coming in contact with a positive Covid case.

The Knicks will be incredibly shorthanded on Sunday, with Barrett being ruled out at The Garden and second-year power forward Obi Toppin joining him on the COVID-19 health and safety protocols list. Starting guard Alec Burks was also ruled out due to personal reasons. That makes three impact players OUT for New York against arguably the best team in basketball.

Toppin has been earning significantly more minutes in recent days, posting a season-high 24 against the Toronto Raptors in the team’s most recent defeat. Toppin contributed 19 points and 10 rebounds, both career highs up to this point.

Losing both Barrett and Toppin will force head coach Tom Thibodeau to supplement their losses with reserve talent. Expect to see a smaller floor with additional guards like Immanuel Quickley and even Quentin Grimes.

Players that could see added minutes include Quickley, Kevin Knox, Miles McBride, and Grimes. Considering Barrett’s spot as a primary shooting guard in the starting five, replicating his 6’4″, 214-pound frame is rather difficult off the bench. Knox is the closest at 6’7″ and 215-pounds, but he is a poor shooter and features as a small forward.

Against Milwaukee, the Knicks don’t stand a chance, especially with Giannis Antetokounmpo dominating this season, averaging 27.6 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game. Since the Knicks last played Milwaukee, they also gained back Khris Middleton, who is adding 18.2 points at 5.1 assists on average.

This is a Bucks team with all of their firepower and the Knicks losing two essential pieces, so if you’re a sports bettor, smashing the over on Milwaukee might be a strong move.