The Knicks are coming off an unfortunate loss to the Toronto Raptors on Monday evening, but they will look to bounce back against the Indiana Pacers, who just gained back Caris LeVert at shooting guard in their most recent win over the San Antonio Spurs. LeVert provided a jolt of offensive production, scoring 16 points and recording seven assists, a healthy contribution.
The Knicks have a more significant challenge ahead than expected, as the Pacers started the year 1â€“5 before their most recent win. They lost the previous four games consecutively, dropping to the Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, and Toronto Raptors twice.
Utilizing a high effort mentality, the Knicks can quickly get back on the right track without missing a beat, and considering both of their losses have been at home, they might have a slight advantage away in Indiana on Wednesday night.
Three keys for the Knicks to overcome Pacers:
1.) Physical interior play to limit Turner and Sabonis
One of the best young players this season is center Myles Turner, who contributed 19 points in the Pacers’ win over San Antonio. On the year, heâ€™s averaging 13.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.9 blocks, and a shooting 53.6% from the field and 32.4% from three-point range.
In fact, Turner may end up being a trade target for the Knicks at the deadline this year, depending on the state of their team, but stifling his efforts and limiting his physical impact will be a key in winning this contest. Of course, the Knicks have to keep a close eye on Domantas Sabonis and his 21.3 points per game.
Sabonis is having himself another fantastic year, contributing 1.8 steals and 11.4 rebounds per game, shooting 60% from the field. Having a physical presence is essential for New York in this contest, so expect to see plenty of Mitchell Robinson in the paint.
2.) Guard the perimeter
One elevated statistic the Pacers enjoyed against the Spurs was a 47.4% three-point rate. They connected on 18â€“ofâ€“38 points from range, so guarding the perimeter for the Knicks will also be essential.
On the season, the Pacers currently rank 10th in three-point percentage at 35.6% and 12th in attempts, heaving up 36.9 per game. The Knicks have a healthy advantage in that category, but they are susceptible to bad defense at times, so they must close down shooting opportunities quickly.
3.) Focus on elite defense, let the offense come naturally
At times, the Knicks have tried to outscore their opponents, which ends up hurting their overall identity and game plan. Head coach Tom Thibodeau relies on elite defense to give his team an advantage, and that is why they enjoyed such a successful run in 2020. Focusing on that portion of their game will contribute to better offensive opportunities, demoralizing their opponent.
So far this season, the Knicks rank 22nd in defensive rating, 25th in steals, and 7th in blocks. Another disappointing stat is their points allowed on fast brakes, giving up 15.1, good for 25th in the league. Their interior defense has been solid, with Robinson playing more minutes, ranking 4th in opponent’s points in the paint.
The Knicks have unfortunately been susceptible to transition scoring, which indicates a lack of hustle anaphora times. That is something RJ Barrett hinted at after the loss to Toronto.
Nonetheless, getting back to their routes and playing quality defense will help them offensively as well, giving them more momentum.