The New York Knicks have won two of their last four games, including an awful performance from their starters against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night. However, they will be looking to bounce back against the Charlotte Hornets, a struggling team that sits at 6-7 on the season. The Hornets have lost five of their last six games but recently snapped the losing streak against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Knicks present a formidable opponent, but they must start strong, indicating that Tom Thibodeau could make a change at point guard in this contest. We will take a look at why that makes sense in the three keys necessary for New York to extract a victory on Friday night.
Three keys for the Knicks against Charlotte on Friday evening:
1.) Limit LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges
Charlotteâ€™s best players are LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges, who are averaging 19.8 and 21.3 points apiece. Ball, who is in his sophomore season, is shooting 43.4% from the field and nearly 40% from three-point range; heâ€™s also a 93% free-throw shooter. Averaging 7.1 assists, Ball is developing into one of the league’s most lethal point guards; stopping him is essential for New York. They have struggled in limiting opponents’ three-point percentages, which tells a story for their defense.
Bridges, on the other hand, is shooting 43.8% and 34.4% from deep, but is attempting 7.4 per game. The Hornets love to take three-point shots, so the Knicks need to be extremely careful with how they play this team. Theyâ€™ve been burned in recent days at the hands of the three-point shot, so they must do something differently against the Hornets, who are currently the best three-point shooting team in basketball at 37.9%.
2.) Intense defense on the perimeter
As stated above, if the Knicks canâ€™t guard the perimeter aggressively and limit Charlotteâ€˜s most lethal deep threats, this will be a long night for New York, who simply canâ€™t match that type of production with Kemba Walker struggling and the starting unit getting in early holes. New York has gotten flustered, heaving up poor shots to try and catch up instead of working their offense diligently and correctly.
Closing out shooting opportunities is a must, as opponents have figured out the equation to unlock the Knicks’ defense. They simply drive to the paint, collapsing the defense and kick the ball out to the corners, where they have been highly successful knocking down three-point shots.
3.) Start Derrick Rose over Kemba Walker
The Knicks found themselves in a 24-point deficit against Milwaukee on Wednesday, thanks to the poor performance of the starting unit. Veteran point guard, Walker has been utterly useless over the past four games, logging single-digit production for his team. Walker is not known as a defensive threat, so Thibodeau might want to consider starting Derrick Rose against the Hornets, increasing the unit’s efficiency and allowing Walker to find his shot with the second team.
Ultimately, the Knicks can continue giving up the advantage early in games, especially against lethal three-point shooting teams. Rose offers so much more on offense and defense at the moment that Thibodeau must make a strategic call and start him over Walker. Eventually, they will swap back to the normal unit, but for the time being, it makes sense to put Walker in a secondary role.