Knicks Look To Protect Their Home Floor Against The Charlotte Hornets

image from clutch points

The New York Knicks (3-9) will be taking on the Charlotte Hornets (5-7) at 7:30pm Eastern Time at home in Madison Square Garden. The Knicks are listed as 3.5 point favorites in this game after their win over the Porzingis-led Dallas Mavericks. Charlotte is coming off a 3 point win at the buzzer against Detroit last night.

Starting Lineups- With 2 Attributes That Will Be Impactful Tonight (Strength, Weakness)

PositionNew York KnicksCharlotte Hornets
PG Frank Ntilikina (generating turnovers, scoring) Terry Rozier (scoring, turnovers/defense)
SGRJ Barrett (driving, perimeter defense) Devonte’ Graham (facilitating/three point shooting, rebounding/size)
SF Marcus Morris Sr. (3 point shooting, turnovers) Miles Bridges(efficient scoring, defense/turnovers)
PFJulius Randle (interior scoring, turnovers) P.J. Washington (efficient scoring, rebounding)
C Taj Gibson (efficient scoring, fouling) Cody Zeller (rebounding, shot blocking)

Matchup Of The Night

RJ Barrett vs. Devonte’ Graham

Barrett will have a serious size advantage in this one standing 5 inches taller and weighing 19 pounds heavier than Graham. Barrett should look to drive on Graham and score on the weak interior defense of the Hornets (reference stat 6 below). Barrett takes 75.9% of his shots from inside the arc and will certainly continue to shoot the majority of his shots from in or around the paint tonight. Graham is having a breakout season averaging 18 points and 7.5 assists per game. He is quick and a very good perimeter shooter. This will be a tough matchup for Barrett defensively who has struggled at guarding the three ball (reference stat 3 below). Graham is averaging 2.7 turnovers per game and Barrett averages 1.3 steals per game. The Knicks backcourt will look to force the smaller Rozier and Graham to turn the ball over and generate some easy scoring chances. Graham is coming off a 38 minute night and it will be interesting to see if he’s tired and it affects his play. If Barrett can hold his own on defense, he should win this matchup tonight as long as he stays aggressive on offense.

Inactives

Knicks- Elfrid Payton and Reggie Bullock

Hornets- No current injured players

Key Statistics

  1. Terry Rozier has two main flaws, he’s averaging 3.3 turnovers per game and has a defensive rating of 113.2 this season (both the worst of his career). Frank is averaging 1.5 steals per game and often pressures smaller guards to cough the ball up. He will look to take advantage of Rozier’s issues with turnovers, while Smith Jr. will come off the bench looking to score, trying  to take advantage of Rozier’s woes on defense.
  2. Devonte’ Graham is averaging career highs in three pointers made (3.1 per game), shooting percentage from three (38.9%), and assists per game (7.5). Graham and Rozier will be very hard to keep out of the paint tonight. The other three starting Hornets primarily score from inside five feet, so protecting the paint will be big tonight. The Knicks will count on Mitchell Robinson, who is averaging 1.8 blocks per game.
  3. RJ Barrett has given up on average, 2.5 three pointers per game, with opponents shooting the three ball at a 43.5% clip while he’s guarding them. Barrett will need to contest on Hornets’ guards Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham who are both great three point shooters.
  4. Julius Randle is averaging 4 turnovers per game. He must be aware of the Hornets’ defenders doubling him in the paint tonight.
  5. Marcus Morris Sr. is shooting a read hot 45.1% from three this season along with averaging 1.1 steals per game. Morris Sr. draws a fantastic matchup against the poor defending and turnover prone Miles Bridges.
  6. The Hornets are 24th in the NBA in defensive rating (111) which should help the Knicks offense get going, especially around the basket. Charlotte is last in the NBA, giving up 55 points per game inside the paint and allows the highest field goal percentage in the league (66.2%) from inside 5 feet. The Knicks will need this help as they are dead last in the NBA in points in the paint, only averaging 39.7 per game.
  7. The Hornets are 8th in three point percentage (36.9%). The Hornets will look to score from three, while the Knicks will look to attack the basket tonight.

Keys To Winning

The Knicks will need to contain the Hornets from three point land and take advantage of Charlotte’s porous interior defense to win tonight. The Hornets have given up 113.1 points per game this season and are coming off a hard fought battle in Charlotte last night. The Hornets should be tired, expect the Knicks to push the tempo and utilize their deep bench to wear down the Hornets defense. The heavy legs of the Hornets may also lead to a poor shooting night for them. Nic Batum will be back tonight and join 6th man Malik Monk in trying to spark Charlotte off the bench. They will be tough covers for the Knicks bench who has recently struggled defensively.

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