The Knicks travel to Orlando to take on a fairly mediocre Magic team that did manage to make the playoffs last season (and who won just one less game against the Toronto Raptors in the playoffs as the Golden State Warriors). In fact, they actually won their division last season, which is kind of hilarious, since that means we actually came vaaaaaguely close to a scenario where a division winner would have missed the playoffs (not really all that likely since teams #9-11 in the Eastern Conference were also in the same division as the Magic). Up until 2015, division winners were guaranteed to make the playoffs, but they dropped that rule then, which is good.
Anyhow, Wayne Ellington moves into the starting lineup, which is good, because he really does help with spacing a lot. While RJ Barrett has quickly become the engine that drives the team, spacing has been a major concern, as well, with the Knicks really relying on Ellington and Kevin Knox a lot to space the floor for their less competent outside shooters.
With Elfrid Payton out for the game, Barrett is the point guard for the Knicks by default, but I imagine we’ll see Frank Ntilikina get some minutes tonight, as well. The Magic, with their defense-minded coach, Steve Clifford (it’s interesting how other teams have coaches who put systems into place – I don’t even like Clifford that much as a coach since he strikes me as a bit stubborn with his views of players, but he obviously knows how to work a system and get more than the sum of his parts with it), was a team that was rumored to have interest in Frank last year before they ended up acquiring Markelle Fultz for a super discounted rate and watching how Fultz plays will be another interesting thing about tonight’s game.
The Knicks could actually start thinking about .500 with a win tonight, so let’s hope that they pull it off.
Let’s go, Knicks!