Knicks need another RJ Barrett masterclass in Game 5

rj barrett, knicks
Apr 23, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) looks to drive against Cleveland Cavaliers guard Caris LeVert (3) during game four of the 2023 NBA playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, the Knicks look to advance to the next round of the playoffs and put away the Cleveland Cavaliers. If they want to do that, they’re going to need everyone to be on their A-game, especially RJ Barrett. RJ has been playing exceptionally well these past two games after starting off a bit slow these playoffs. The former Duke forward seems to be settling in when it matters most. 

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The Knicks need the best of RJ Barrett

After putting up a combined 21 points in the first two games, on 6-25 from the field, Barrett refocused himself and got back out there. In the previous two games, both in New York, he’s fed off the energy in MSG, and it’s shown. He dropped 26 in their Game 4 dub and then 19 on 8-12 shooting in the dominant Game 3 route of the Cavs. If RJ keeps playing like that, the ceiling for this team is incredibly high. 

RJ had a bit of a disappointing season by his standards, especially after signing the massive contract extension to keep him in New York for the foreseeable future. He put up 19.6 points, 5.0 boards, and 2.8 assists per game on 43% shooting from the field. In the two decisive Knicks victories, he’s posting 22.5, 5, and 2 on 56.7% shooting. He’s been aggressive, continues to attack the rim, and his midrange game has been nearly flawless. 

If the Knicks want to close out the series tonight, I have no doubt that RJ Barrett will be a big reason why that could be possible. Though Julius Randle has struggled, a few other guys have picked up the slack. If RJ puts up another 20 spot, with his great Brunson has been playing, that might be all the big scoring production the Knicks need. With guys like Hart, Quickley, even Mitch Robinson and Hartenstein getting in on the action, this team can easily complete the 4-1 series rout. 

RJ has been a fantastic scorer ever since his high school days, and there’s a reason he was so highly touted at Duke. Even if his regular season was inconsistent and a bit disappointing for his contract, that can all be wiped away with a fantastic playoff showing. He helped put away Game 4 thanks to some excellent shot choices and ability to make some difficult plays. Now, the Knicks need him to do it one more time against Cleveland tonight.