New Orleans Pelicans vs New York Knicks 1/20/22: Starting Lineups, Matchup Preview, Betting Odds, Live Stream

New Orleans Pelicans vs New York Knicks Matchup Preview (1/20/22)

Brandon Ingram will face former teammate Julius Randle in a matchup between the New Orleans Pelicans (16-28) and New York Knicks (22-23). The Pelicans missed the final play-in seed by two games last season and harbored hopes of a playoff berth this season. Instead, they are currently out of the play-in games while being 25th in Offensive Rating (107.4) and 24th in Defensive Rating (111.6). In the month of January, they are 3-6 while currently holding a two game losing streak. The Pelicans lost 104-92 Monday night to the Boston Celtics and were outscored by 10 points in the 4th quarter. Off-season addition Jonas Valanciunas dominated Horford and the Celtics to the tune of 22 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists on 9/17 shooting. Brandon Ingram shot 6/19 from the field, but he was able to affect the game in other ways by grabbing 10 rebounds and manufacturing 6 assists. Key starter Devonte’ Graham (ankle) is a game time decision for the Pelicans. On the season, he is averaging 13.8 PPG, 4.6 APG, 2.6 RPG, and 1.0 SPG. The guard rotation is already thin, so Graham’s inability to play would severely lower their chance of victory. 

The Knicks will try to rebound off a disappointing 112-110 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Entering the 4th quarter, the Knicks were up by 5 points after orchestrating a comeback. Poor execution and missed free throws haunted the Knicks, and the Timberwolves escaped with a win. The team had won three games in a row, but now they have dropped the last two against the Hornets and Timberwolves. Although the record is not what the Knicks pictured they would have at the halfway point, there is still hope. They are only a few games back of the 7th seed with 37 games still to go. Nerlens Noel is questionable once again for this matchup. Noel’s interior defense would be a boon for the Knicks considering they will face a legitimate paint threat in Jonas Valanciunas. If Noel is not ready to return, Mitchell Robinson will likely get the start again. Robinson is a lob and dunk threat averaging 1.5 BPG in only 25 MPG. He is predictable on offense, but he plays his role efficiently and is shooting 78.6% from the field. Robinson is not as versatile a defender as Noel, but he protects the rim adequately through his 7’4” wingspan and hyper-athleticism. 

New Orleans Pelicans vs New York Knicks Betting Odds

The Knicks and Pelicans played once this season on October 30th. The Knicks won 123-117 by shooting 42/81 (51.9%) from the field and 19/33 (57.6 3PT%) from three. RJ Barrett erupted for 35 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists on 66.7 FG%, while five other Knicks players scored in double digits. For this matchup, I am going with the Knicks moneyline. The game will be relatively close throughout with the Pelicans staying within striking distance. Look for the Knicks to put the Pelicans away in the 4th quarter on the back of Kemba, Barrett, and Randle. I would bet up to -5.5 Knicks for the spread since the Pelicans do have some fight in them regardless of their record.

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TV Schedule

Date: 1/20/22
Time: 7:30 PM ET
Arena: Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
Channel: NBA League Pass

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New Orleans Pelicans Starting Lineup

PG: Devonte’ Graham
SG: Josh Hart
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Herbert Jones
C: Jonas Valanciunas

New Orleans Pelicans Analysis

Although the roster does need an infusion of talent, injuries have played a central role in their sluggish season. Former first overall pick Zion Williamson has not played a single game, Brandon Ingram has missed 9 games, and Kira Lewis Jr is out for the season. Regardless of injury, the roster was not one that inspired confidence in a Western Conference Finals berth. The Pelicans have a good core set in the frontcourt, but the backcourt needs work. Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and Jonas Valanciunas combine to form a lethal offensive trio. Valanciunas can control the boards and space the floor for Zion with his 12 RPG and 42.4 3PT%. He is a much better fit next to Zion than Steven Adams was last season. Ingram is a natural scorer who can be the closer for the Pelicans. If you squint, you can see a resemblance between Ingram/Zion and reigning champions Middleton/Giannis.

The Pelicans also have frontcourt depth in Josh Hart, Herbert Jones, and Jaxson Hayes. For the backcourt, Devonte’ Graham, Kira Lewis Jr, and Nickeil Walker-Alexander are the only impactful players currently, although Trey Murphy III has promise as a 3&D type of player. Not retaining Lonzo Ball looks to be a huge mistake for a team that desperately needs a primary ball handler and perimeter defense. Ball also had a strong connection with Zion in the pick and roll. The future depends on whether Zion can lose weight, improve his conditioning, and stay healthy. It is a big if at this point, but he is a great player when on the court.

New York Knicks Starting Lineup

PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Evan Fournier
SF: RJ Barrett
PF: Julius Randle
C: Nerlens Noel

New York Knicks Analysis

If the Knicks want to achieve their goal of a championship this season, they need Kemba Walker to return to the level of play he is capable of. Standing at 6’0”, if that, he will always be a negative asset on the defensive end. Due to his age and injury history, Kemba will never consistently hit the level of play he produced in his last season with the Hornets, where he averaged 25.6 PPG and 5.9 APG. In the 4th quarter against the Timberwolves, Kemba showed what he can bring to the table when he made contested, off the dribble three point shots. His shot creation and handles are still elite at this stage of his career.

The Knicks offense would be unpredictable and tough to guard, since Kemba, Fournier, Barrett, or Randle could lead the charge on any given night. Without a Kemba revival, the Knicks are an easy 1st round knockout at best. With Kemba in form, the roster suddenly looks like it has the potential to be a tough out for Eastern Conference contenders. Alec Burks looked capable of being their point guard for a stretch of games, but his inconsistency as a shooter and playmaker have weighed the Knicks down. The path forward runs through Kemba Walker. 

New Orleans Pelicans vs New York Knicks Daily Fantasy Picks

I like RJ Barrett and Jonas Valanciunas to be the stars of the game. Barrett has been inconsistent at times this season, but he should feast against a shaky New Orleans defense. He scored 35 in the last matchup and has the ability to repeat that performance. The Pelicans, meanwhile, have been feeding Valanciunas the ball constantly. He is a double-double monster with the range to force Mitchell Robinson on the perimeter where he is uncomfortable. Valanciunas will also be cheaper than the usual player with his production. Fournier could be a steal, since he has games where he is the number one option on the Knicks. Against the Timberwolves, he was the highest scorer in the game with 27 points. Fournier is riskier than Barrett and Valanciunas, but he will not cost as much.  

I am currently a junior at University of Pennsylvania majoring in Psychology. I have spent the last few years working with various UPenn athletics teams and contributing to the UPenn Sports Analytics Group. My primary interests reside in NBA, NFL, and College Football.

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