The New York Knicks will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday afternoon. The Clippers are also below .500 on the season but are coming off a resilient win against the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday.
At this point, the Knicks can’t overlook any opponent, considering their wild inconsistencies and lack of rhythm this season. The Clippers might not offer the most difficult opponent, but they should be taken seriously nonetheless, especially with Cam Reddish expected to be available after rehabilitating from an ankle injury.
Three keys for the Knicks to overcome the Clippers on Sunday afternoon:
1.) Limit Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris
The Clippers heavily rely on Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris to carry the load. With Paul George missing time due to a UCL injury, expect Jackson and Morris to receive the majority of offensive opportunities.
This season, Jackson is averaging 16.7 points, 4.2 assists, and 3.4 rebounds. Morris is contributing 16 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.2 assists. Clearly, the loss of George is heavily impacting their efficiency, so if the Knicks can lock down the Clippers’ top two players at the moment, the chances of winning skyrocket.
2.) Protect the perimeter
The Clippers are the 8th ranked three-point shooting team in basketball, hitting 35.7% of their shots from deep. The Knicks rank 9th at 35.6, but their defense closing out the perimeter has been spotty this season.
Whether it be a lack of communication or positioning, the Knicks need to guard the perimeter effectively if they want to take down the Clippers. Luke Kennard offers the best shooter from range, hitting 43.1% on 6.3 attempts per game this year. Nicolas Batum is close behind at 41.4%.
Normally, George commands so much attention, their spot-up shooters have clean looks at the basket, but the Knicks have an advantage in this game without Paul on the court.
3.) Control the boards
The Clippers struggle with their rebounding, ranking 23rd with 43.9 rebounds per game. The Knicks are one of the best defensive teams inside, ranking 10th with a 73.4% defensive rebounding success rate. However, with Nerlens Noel battling a knee injury, Mitchell Robinson has been forced to play excessive minutes, which he’s taken in stride.
Robinson has been stellar in the new year, averaging 11.9 points per game, including double-digit points in six of their last seven games, including 17 against the Pelicans on Thursday. His minutes have skyrocketed to 27.2 in January compared to 23.5 in December.
With Robinson playing at an elevated level, the Knicks will need to rely on him to control the boards, offering second opportunities.