Tonight, the New York Knicks will be taking on the Orlando Magic at the Amway Center in Orlando at 7:00pm Eastern Time. The Magic are listed as 9.5 point favorites heading into this matchup even though they only won one game so far this season and it was against a weak Cleveland Cavaliers squad. The Orlando Magic are led by veterans Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic. High flying Aaron Gordon, veteran ball handler DJ Augustin, sharpshooter Terrance Ross, and defensive stretch four Al-Farouq Aminu are also significant contributors for this Magic team. Other contributors for Orlando are their younger players in Jonathan Isaac, Markelle Fultz, and Mo Bamba. Both of these teams are looking to win their second game of the season and continue to grow their young talent. The Knicks will rely heavily on RJ Barrett and Frank Ntilikina to do most of the ball handling and set up the offense with Elfrid Payton (hamstring), Dennis Smith Jr. (personal), and Kadeem Allen (knee) all out for tonight’s contest. Vucevic has been a juggernaut against the Knicks in previous seasons and the Knicks will look to lock him down tonight with Mitchell Robinson drawing the start against him.
The New York Knicks will be starting RJ Barrett at point with Wayne Ellington at shooting guard. Coach Fizdale said Frank will rack up the most minutes at point guard in this game, but won’t be starting because he needs to make sure Ntilikina doesn’t get into early foul trouble due to the Knicks lack of depth at point guard tonight. I would expect RJ to slide over and play the 2 next to Ntilikina for most of the game. The Knicks starting lineup will be rounded out by their usual front court of Marcus Morris, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson as Coach Fizdale has elected to keep his hot scorers Bobby Portis Jr. and Kevin Knox off of the bench. The Magic’s starting five will be DJ Augustin, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, and Nikola Vucevic. Augustin and Gordon will drive the ball into the paint and look to create open shots for Fournier and Vucevic. It will be crucial that the Knicks keep the Magic out of the paint, crash the glass, and contest Fournier/Ross (off the bench) from three. Mitchell Robinson may have issues staying out of foul trouble against a polished scoring center in Nikola Vucevic.
Matchup Of The Night
There isn’t one single matchup tonight that will make or break the Knicks. I think all five matchups are very even and I would expect Barrett and Fournier to matchup with Ellington and Augustin matching up even though on offense they will be playing different roles than the player they are guarding. This game is going to come down to the winner of the benches and who hits the big shots down the stretch. I think the Knicks have the edge off of the bench as Ntilikina should have no problem locking up Fultz and the Knicks should be able to score even though they are going against a very good defensive bench from the Magic. Bobby Portis Jr., Kevin Knox, and Allonzo Trier will need to hit jump shots due to Mo Bamba and Al-Farouq Aminu controlling the interior play. The weapon for the Magic off of the bench is Terrance Ross who the Knicks will need to contain from 3 as he is very good at hitting tough shots and can heat up in a hurry.
Keys To Winning
To win this game, the Knicks will need to hit jump shots going against a strong defensive interior all night long matched up against the Magic’s starters and subs. They also will need to contest Fournier, Ross, and Vucevic (a very capable 3 point shooter) from downtown to make sure they don’t open up a big lead. Then after that, it will come down to do the Knicks have a guy they can count on down the stretch to score the ball as you know Vucevic will be looking to takeover the end of the game for Orlando.