The Milwaukee Bucks will be paying the New York Knicks a visit for the second time in three days as a part of the NBA's Christmas fixtures.
The New York Knicks have been having a tricky patch, demonstrating a 5-5 outcome in the current month, neither winning nor losing more than two consecutive games since their three-match victory streak from late November to early December. In the recent match on Saturday, Jalen Brunson (36) and Julius Randle (26) collectively scored 62 points. However, none of their teammates could best the 12-point threshold. The Knicks continue to struggle with bench depth, especially given the likely season-ending left ankle injury of centre Mitchell Robinson. Isaiah Hartenstein, who scored 12 points and achieved 13 rebounds, drew 2 fouls within the initial two minutes of the game and was substituted before the first quarter ended, in which the Knicks trailed 27:36. Hartenstein clocked 33 minutes on court, while 38-year-old, Chicago and New York veteran, Taj Gibson, who signed on the 15th of December, managed 2 points and 1 rebound in 14 minutes.
Recently, the Knicks clinched reassuring victories against the Lakers and the Nets but suffered a crushing 29-point defeat at the hands of the Bucks on Saturday. The Knicks' mean statistics comprise scoring 114.6 points per game on 46.2% shooting and conceding 112 points on 47.5% opponent shooting. Brunson is averaging 25.6 points and 4 rebounds, while Randle is racking up 22.8 points and 9.5 rebounds.
Come Monday, the Milwaukee Bucks will seek to extend their seven-match winning streak by vising the New York Knicks, where Chris Middleton, their seasoned player, will strive to continue his impressive season showing. This encounter will be the onset of the NBA's five-match Christmas fixture. Last Saturday, Middleton bagged 20 points, captured 5 rebounds and made 5 assists, fuelling the Bucks' triumph over the Knicks 130:111 in New York. Middleton wasn't the star of that match, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard coming close to triple-doubles. Middleton contributed substantially at both ends of the court, chalking up 9 points on play and spending over 33 minutes on court, demonstrating a plus/minus of 17, successfully defending against the Knicks' best players – Brunson and Randle.
The Milwaukee Bucks have notched up seven successive wins, successively beating the Bulls, Pacers, Pistons, Rockets, Spurs, Magic and Knicks. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been averaging 30.8 points and making 10.9 rebounds, while Damian Lillard has been amassing 26 points and making 4.7 rebounds. Of late, Middleton has displayed the kind of form that marked the Bucks' last championship-winning season, and with such an offence, the Bucks have every chance of clinching the title.
The Bucks have won all eight of their recent matches against the Knicks, and over the last 10 encounters, the Knicks have emerged victorious only once. In their last meeting on December 23rd, Milwaukee prevailed 130:111. The Knicks have a 23-32 record on Christmas, whereas the Bucks have a mere 5-4.
The Knicks have lost 10 out of the last 11 daytime games against Eastern Conference opponents with winning records and failed to cover the TO spread in 8 out of the last 9 Christmas matches. Seven out of the last eight games between the Bucks and Knicks at Madison Square Garden have ended with a total score above the projected. The New York Knicks play a slower game with fewer three-pointers, while Milwaukee commands the league's second-best offence and demonstrate an impressive basketball game. I predict Milwaukee's 9th win over New York on Christmas evening.