After missing two games due to knee soreness, New York Knicks shooting guard RJ Barrett is slated to return to action tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers.
RJ Barrett’s Absence Felt in the Knicks Dropping Their Last 2 Games
Stefan Bondy of the New York Post reported Barrett’s return to practice and readiness to play while including this quote from teammate Jalen Brunson on what his presence on the court means for the team:
“He adds everything. He does it on both sides of the ball, and he has that mentality that he goes out there every night no matter what’s happening, he’s trying to win. So he’s a key for us.”
Barrett has been a bright spot for the Knicks as they’ve struggled to meet expectations out of the gates. Barrett’s 45.3 percent clip from the field, 42.9 percent connect rate from three, and 81 percent marker from the free-throw line are all the highest he’s seen in his career and show that his offseason goal to be more efficient is paying off, though early.
The Knicks certainly missed Barrett’s production. In his absence, they went 0-2 against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks. In both losses, the Knicks failed to have any other player outside of Brunson score 20 or more points.
- Knicks’ Julius Randle named Eastern Conference Player of The Week
- Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau defends choice to stick with struggling Quentin Grimes
- Knicks benefiting from Jalen Brunson’s ability to draw charges
The Knicks Need Barrett’s Scoring Against The Clippers’ Four-Headed Monster
Fortunately for Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau and the rest of the team, Barrett’s return comes at the right time. The Los Angeles Clippers just dealt for former league MVP James Harden, who is expected to make his season and franchise debut at Madison Square Garden tonight.
Harden joins Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Russell Westbrook in L.A., forming a super team with a formidable scoring punch. Though older, Harden has still exhibited an ability to put points on the board with two 40-point performances in the 2023 Eastern Conference semifinals the last time he was seen on the court.
George (28.8 PPG) and Leonard (23.0 PPG) lead the way for the Clippers, with Westbrook running the offense behind 15.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.0 assists a night in typical Westbrook fashion. Collectively, they’ve led the league’s third-highest-scoring offense (121.4 PPG).
With Julius Randle continuing to struggle, Barrett’s insertion back into the rotation will give Brunson a second scorer to take pressure off of him and hopefully free up higher-quality looks for Quentin Grimes, Donte DiVincenzo, and the rest of the Knicks’ shooters from outside.