PREVIEW: New York Knicks go for season sweep of Golden State Warriors

Feb 21, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Julius Randle #30 of the New York Knicks dunks as Malik Beasley #5 and Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves look on during the first half at Madison Square Garden on February 21, 2021 in New York City. Mandatory Credit: Sarah Stier/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks take their improved play of late up against a highly motivated team when they host the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night.

Despite having lost starting center Mitchell Robinson to a broken hand, the Knicks have won four of five, including a 103-99 home triumph over Minnesota on Sunday.

Robinson played a key role in a 119-104 win at Golden State on Jan. 21, recording 18 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.

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On the third stop of a four-game trip, the Warriors will be not only seeking to gain a measure of revenge for the earlier defeat, but also put the frustrations of two straight tough defeats in the rear-view mirror.

After blowing a 13-point, fourth-quarter lead at Orlando on Friday, the Warriors saw a five-point advantage in the final minute turn into a disastrous 102-100 loss at Charlotte on Saturday.

Thanks in large part to 25 points from Kelly Oubre Jr. and double-figure scoring from three reserves on an illness- and injury-shortened bench, Golden State appeared primed to overcome the absence of Stephen Curry and pull out a win against the Hornets.

But a turnover by Brad Wanamaker with a chance to run out the clock, two technical fouls on Draymond Green and a buzzer-beating jumper by Terry Rozier conspired to send the Warriors to a defeat for which Green apologized for two days later in New York.

“I was … wrong,” Green assured the media about his two-technical ejection with 9.3 seconds remaining on Monday. “I’m still a bit disappointed in myself.”

The good news for the Warriors is they’ve played some of their best basketball of the season when attempting to avoid a third straight loss. They’ve gone 4-0 under those circumstances, including road wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio.

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Golden State expects Curry back from an upset stomach that ruined his annual homecoming in Charlotte. Warriors big men James Wiseman (sprained wrist) and Kevon Looney (sprained ankle) could join Curry on the court, as both are considered game-time decisions after participating in practice Monday.

The Warriors will welcome any additional help up front to deal with the Knicks’ Julius Randle, who had 16 points and 17 rebounds in the earlier meeting in San Francisco.

Randle has scored 22 or more points in 12 of the 15 games since seeing the Warriors, including averaging 28 during the Knicks’ run of four wins in five games.

On top of everything else, Randle has gotten his 3-point game rolling in his last three outings, making 12 of 24.

Interestingly, Randle will find out if he’s been selected to the All-Star team shortly before tipoff on Tuesday when the non-starters are announced on a national telecast. He has never earned the honor in his career.

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“I think the numbers speak for themselves, but there are a lot of players who have similar-type numbers,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau noted last week about Randle, who began play Monday ranked 21st in the NBA in scoring (23.2), 12th in rebounds (11.0) and 27th in assists (5.5).

“But I think when you look at the impact on winning, that’s where he’s separated himself. To do what he’s doing for this team, we wouldn’t be where we are. He’s our engine. So I hope that’s recognized.”

–Field Level Media