One of the Knicks‘ biggest struggles this season is starting off the game slow, which is exactly what happened against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday evening.
In the first quarter, the Bucks posted 38 points, lead by Grayson Allen and his incredible 3-Pt shooting. Allen posted 17 points in the first half, shooting 5-of-7 from range. However, as HC Tom Thibodeau stated, “no lead is ever safe.” The Knicks were down by 21 points at one point but climbed back by the half to bring it within seven. By the end of the 3rd quarter, they had secured a five-point lead, outscoring the Bucks 32-20. By the end of the 4th, they had built a 15-point lead, securing a 114-98 victory.
Resiliency was the catalyst in the contest, but once against the Knicks had their fair share of early issues.
The good, the bad, and the ugly for the Knicks:
Despite the Bucks starting out on fire, the Knicks didn’t submit to their authority on the road. Instead, New York fought valiantly back into the game, riding a combo of players to victory, including two dominant quarters to finish the game.
However, it was power forward Julius Randle who came out guns blazing in the 2nd quarter, contributing 16 points in the first half, to will his team back into the game. In the 2nd half, third-year guard RJ Barrett displayed his recent form, enjoying 20 overall points, 3 assists, and seven rebounds.
By the game’s end, Randle had secured 32 points, 4 assists, and 12 rebounds. He shot 50% from the field, connecting on 11-of-22 shots.
Resiliency was the key variable in the win for New York, snapping a two-game losing streak against lesser opponents.
The Knicks utilized the Derrick Rose-Immanuel Quickley combo to perfection against the Bucks. Rose earned 23 points and Quickly 9, but their defensive contributions didn’t go unnoticed. Kemba Walker didn’t make a big impression in the win, posting just five points on 15 minutes, but made way for the hot-hands.
Seeing resiliency from the point guard position is a new development for the Knicks and one that must be appreciated after spending a year watching Elfrid Payton fail to contribute offensively.
The Knicks’ 3-PT shooting was abysmal for the 2nd consecutive game, shooting just 23.1% in the first half. Unfortunately, they’re defining themselves as a team that lives and dies by the deep ball, which isn’t sustainable with poor perimeter defense. Luckily, they escaped this one with productive interior and mid-range scoring in the 2nd half.
The Bucks entered the game ranking 20th in 3-Pt percentage but hit 37.2% on the night, indicating poor defense and open looks for their sharp-shooters, specifically Allen. Luckily, their season average showed during the 2nd half, gifting the Knicks with plenty of bounce-back opportunities.
This was the second-consecutive game the Knicks allowed 37%+ 3-PT shooting, a difficult number to match. Expect to see higher-intensity defense as the season continues, as we saw glimpses of their quality in the 3rd quarter specifically.
Early defense remains a serious issue for the Knicks, who gave up 63 points in the first half and a 38-point first quarter. The 2nd team showed more intensity on defense, specifically Immanuel Quickley, who was playing solid press.
Luckily, the Bucks went ice-cold in the 2nd half, giving Thibodeau’s team a clear path to victory — lead by strong 2nd-team defense. Four bench players emerged with a positive +/-, showing their incredible depth. However, they need more from the starters regarding defensive efficiency.