Despite the plethora of NBA players that have been missing in action due to COVID-related safety protocols, the two teams come into this matchup with a relatively clean injury slate.
However, Kyrie Irving is expected to sit out the game against the New York Knicks. On the other hand, Reggie Bullock is also doubtful for the New York Knicks although both teams have all of their other regular starters available.
The New York Knicks are coming into this game off three consecutive losses and need a quick change in fortunes, as they come up against a strong Brooklyn Nets who are expected to have Kevin Durant fit and firing.
The New York Knicks have done well defensively but have not been able to replicate the scoring touch they have shown in a few games earlier during the season.
Nevertheless, the Brooklyn Nets are the firm favorites to take the win despite the probable absence of Kyrie Irving. On that note, we take a look at the best combined-5 featuring players of both teams who are available for this matchup.
Center – Jarrett Allen (Brooklyn Nets)
Jarrett Allen has started the season in decent overall form and is expected to start for the Brooklyn Nets at the center position. He has averaged 11.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game this season and would be expected to provide valuable offensive support to Kevin Durant.
Allen has been consistently producing key performances for the Brooklyn Nets from the center position and is only likely to improve further. His improved shooting especially from the three-point range has been very noteworthy.
Power Forward - Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets)
Unsurprisingly, Kevin Durant takes up the power forward position, as he is arguably one of the best players in the competition.
Kevin Durant has missed his fair share of games this season but is averaging 29.9 points and 5.8 assists per game and has already shown the dominance that is expected of him.
In the absence of the Brooklyn Nets’ other big star - Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant will be expected to deliver another victory for his team. He is instrumental to the Brooklyn Nets’ hopes of mounting a championship challenge this time and will be looking to dominate proceedings against the New York Knicks as well.
Small Forward - Julius Randle (New York Knicks)
For the New York Knicks, Julius Randle has been the saving grace in offense. Currently, He is averaging 22.1 points, 11.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game, his best numbers in an NBA season till now.
Of course, the New York Knicks have had their offensive frailties, overreliant on Julius Randle, especially in the last three games. While players such as Elfrid Payton, Alec Burks and RJ Barrett started the season well, the New York Knicks appear to have lost their way a bit and need to buckle up quickly.
Shooting Guard – RJ Barrett (New York Knicks)
RJ Barrett is one player who appears to be improving almost on a weekly basis for the New York Knicks. However, he hasn’t looked at his offensive best in recent times and has been shooting abysmally from the 3-point range.
He is currently averaging 16 points and 3.5 assists per game and needs to find his scoring touch quickly if the New York Knicks are to give the Brooklyn Nets a run for their money.
In the absence of Kyrie Irving, the New York Knicks will have a decent chance of pulling off an upset but would need RJ Barrett to be close to his best.
Point Guard – Elfrid Payton (New York Knicks)
Elfrid Payton is another player who is producing the best scoring numbers of his career for the New York Knicks.
He has averaged 14.5 points and 4.6 assists per game this season and could take on some of the scoring burden in the game against the in-form Brooklyn Nets.
However, RJ Barrett’s worrying shooting form has compounded the New York Knicks’ struggles in their past few games. So Payton’s passing skills could be put under further under the scanner against a dangerous Brooklyn Nets side.
For the New York Knicks to beat the Brooklyn Nets, at least two of Payton, Barrett and Julius Randle will need to produce massive performances.Published 13 Jan 2021, 23:00 IST