REPORT: Frank Ntilikina out for Knicks vs. Bucks with sore back
Frank Ntilikina (sore upper back) is out for tonight’s game at Milwaukee.
— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) December 2, 2019
On Sunday, head coach David Fizdale revealed that he doesn’t think Ntilikina’s injury is serious. However, he admitted that the defense-first guard may have to sit out their next game — which is against the Bucks.
David Fizdale says Frank Ntilikina may miss the next game with his back injury, but the coach doesn't believe it's "severe."
— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) December 1, 2019
The Knicks previously listed Ntilikina as doubtful but then upgraded him to questionable before ultimately deciding to rule him out. He originally suffered his injury during the second half of the team’s 113-104 loss to the Boston Celtics, which resulted in Dennis Smith Jr. receiving the bulk of the point guard minutes for the remainder of the game.
Smith Jr. has been trending upward lately as he managed to rack up 17 points, seven assists, one rebound and two blocks along with a pair of made triples against the Celtics. With Ntilikina and Elfrid Payton both sidelined against the Bucks, it will be another opportunity for Smith Jr. to solidify himself at the point guard spot.
On the season, Ntilikina is averaging 6.5 points, 2.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists. His production has been an improvement from what he provided during the 2018-19 season from a statistical standpoint. However, his defensive impact has remained strong beyond the box score.
It remains unclear when exactly Ntilikina will be able to return to the lineup. It’s worth noting that the Knicks’ next game isn’t until Thursday when they host the Denver Nuggets at Madison Square Garden then they face off against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.