ATLANTA — It goes again to highschool, the rivalry between RJ Barrett and Scottie Barnes.
As Barrett identified forward of their subsequent matchup, “I busted his ass.” That was in reference to the 2018 nationwide title recreation, when Barrett dropped 25 factors with 15 rebounds in Montverde Academy’s beatdown over Barnes’ squad, University School.
Now Barrett and Barnes are NBA foes with mutual respect but additionally some further motivation for Sunday’s head-to-head in Toronto.
“Hopefully [I guard him again],” Barrett stated. “That’s what I want.”
The gasoline for Barrett, past the return to his hometown of Toronto and the necessity to snap a three-game dropping streak, is the final matchup towards the Raptors lower than every week in the past. Barrett buried an exhilarating game-tying dunk and scored 32 factors in that contest, however the Knicks dropped a heartbreaker with Barnes grabbing clutch rebounds. It prompted a postgame remark from Barnes about exploiting a mismatch towards Barrett.
“When I was posting up, RJ is a good defender, but I felt like with me being taller, with my size, I was going to be able to get a good look around the rim every single time,” Barnes, the 2022 Rookie of the Year, stated.
Barrett responded Friday.
“It’s what the plays are set up for him to do. I’m not worried about that at all,” he stated. “I had a lot of tough battles against him in high school. I remember winning a national championship against him in high school. So we’ve been battling for a while. Lot of respect. We have the same agency [BDA Sports]. Lot of respect. But it’s going to be a good fight.”
On guarding Barnes once more Sunday, Barrett stated, “He got to guard me, too.”
Even with out the Barnes storyline, the Toronto recreation is particular for Barrett. He missed the final go to to Scotiabank Arena whereas recovering from a finger laceration, however took solace within the return coming so shortly.
During final season’s go to, Barrett had roughly 1,000 associates, household and members of his church congregation within the seats.
“It’s going to be a tough, physical playoff-type game. That’s what it’s been the three times we played them,” Barrett stated. “We owe them. It’s going to be a superb matchup. You know I’m excited.
“I can’t wait to play. I can’t wait.”
During the Jan. 16 matchup at Madison Square Garden, Barnes, who scored 26 factors with six offensive rebounds, was additionally noticed on video taunting Quentin Grimes by pointing on the Knicks ahead and repeating, “You are not him.”
Grimes informed the Daily News it wasn’t private.
“He just talking. Everybody is just talking,” Grimes stated. “It is what it is. It really ain’t nothing.”
For Grimes, the true revenge is tying the season sequence.
“They got two, we got one. We need to even this up. We know what type of game it’s going to be in their city,” Grimes stated. “It’s going to be a dogfight for sure.”