The New York Knicks will face off against the Detroit Pistons for the third, and final, time this season at Madison Square Garden. Both of the previous matchups provided close games with the Pistons winning by four points in the first game and by three points in the second game, and even though both teams look drastically different from their earlier matchups, this game is shaping up to be another close one. The Pistons will be without their newly acquired superstar Blake Griffin due to an ankle injury, and of course, the Knicks are without the “unicorn” Kristaps Porzingis.
Without Griffin in the lineup, Drummond exploded for a monster game, scoring 24 points and grabbing 23 rebounds against the stumbling Washington Wizards. Drummond has been a problem for opposing teams all season on the boards, and in his last three games, he’s been averaging slightly over 20 rebounds per game. Expect Drummond to continue to crash the boards against the Knicks who have been out-rebounded by their opponents in their last three games.
In Porzingis’ absence, Beasley has stepped up his game, and he has let the league know why his nickname is the “Walking Bucket.” Overall, Beasley has had his struggles this season, but when he’s using 10% of his brain power, opponents have been unable to slow him down. In his last two games, he dropped 27 points against the Hornets, and he scored a smooth 22 points against the Sixers. Expect Beasley to continue to walk his way to the bucket against the Pistons.
Matchup to watch out for: Trey Burke v. Reggie Jackson
Since being called up by the Knicks from their G-League affiliate, Westchester Knicks, Burke has shown that he belongs in the NBA. Due to his amazing performances lately, Hornacek has given the starting point guard reign to Burke, and he hasn’t disappointed since. Against the Hornets, Burke slapped an impressive career-high 42 points and 12 assists on the Hornets, and in his last three games, he’s averaging around 26 points per game and 7 assists per game.
Jackson has recently returned from injury for the Pistons, and since his return, the Pistons have begun to turn it around. Pistons have won four of their last five games, and Jackson has been a major contributor in each game. It’s clear the Pistons missed his game on the court, and as a result, they’ve dropped a bit in the playoff race, but Jackson seems to have righted the ship and he’s now leading the Pistons on a desperate late playoff push. In two of his last three games, he has scored over 15 points.
Burke vs. Jackson is an intriguing matchup because both are aggressive score-first point guards. Expect both players to exchange blows while they’re on the court guarding each other.
Michael Beasley over 15.5 points
Andre Drummond over 8.5 rebounds
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