Will Kawhi Leonard Play Today? New York Knicks vs Los Angeles Clippers: Preview, Lineups & Predictions

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It is defense vs defense as the New York Knicks host the Los Angeles Clippers in a rare afternoon NBA clash at the Garden. Both of them ride into this game with winning momentum behind them.

Date & Time: January 31, 2021, 1pm ET

Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York

Records: Knicks (9-11), Clippers (15-5)

Dec 13, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Killian Hayes (7) ties up New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) for a jump ball during the second quarter at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Preview | New York Knicks

After the 102-81 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, they are now in Playoff contention (eighth spot in the table). And it is the least they deserve as the Tom Thibodeau coached team has the best defensive rating in the NBA.

Their young core is firing on all cylinders; RJ Barrett is making real progress in his sophomore season while 2020 NBA draft pick Immanuel Quickley is banishing the demons of Kristaps Porzingis.

Though the center of their upturn in fortunes is really Julius Randle who is averaging career-highs of 22.2 points and 11.1 rebounds.

Starting 5 for the New York Knicks

Guard – Elfrid Payton

Guard – RJ Barrett

Center – Mitchell Robinson

Forward – Alec Burks

Forward – Julius Randle

Preview | Los Angeles Clippers

When it comes to playing a tight defense, the LA Clippers aren’t far behind their opponents. They rank at 4th place in defensive ratings this season, led by former defensive player of the year, Kawhi Leonard. Talking about him, The Klaw may be slightly doubtful for this encounter.

He and Paul George returned and showed no rust in their win against the Orlando Magic after missing two games previously because of the league’s health and safety protocols. Though, he may soldier on even after a mere 36-hour recovery period.

But the most important player for them this season has been Paul George and not Leonard. He is playing at an all-star starter level with 23.9 points per game at 50.4% shooting from the field. Maybe Pandemic P was something specific to the Bubble after all.

Starting 5 for the Los Angeles Clippers

Guard – Reggie Jackson

Guard – Paul George

Center – Serge Ibaka

Forward – Nicolas Batum

Forward – Kawhi Leonard

Predictions | Knicks vs Clippers

While the Clippers will arrive as the slight favorites, one cannot count out the Knicks so easily. If they unlock the Clippers’ defense, they may have a shot at upsetting their more fancied opponents. Otherwise, Ty Lue’s side will make short shrift of the New Yorkers.

READ MORE- Why did Paul George Change his Jersey Number from 24 to 13?

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