The New York Knicks have an excellent opportunity to get back in the win column against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night at 7:30 PM. After losing consecutive games to the Charlotte Hornets and Minnesota Timberwolves, it has become clear that New York lacks a legitimate point guard.
Despite having Kemba Walker against the Timberwolves, scoring 19 points, the team needs a floor general that can facilitate and be unselfish. That is a primary reason the front office has been connected to players like Jalen Brunson as of late as the trade deadline nears.
However, with New Orleans struggling considerably away the season, the Knicks have a great opportunity to bring their record back to .500.
Three keys for the Knicks to overcome the Pelicans:
1.) Take advantage of struggling New Orleans team on the road
The Pelicans have lost five consecutive games on the road, with their last two defeats coming against the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics. They scored just 92 points against Boston, blowing an 18 point lead in the first half.
On the year, the Pelicans are 6–17 in road games, and without Zion Williamson, they have found success hard to come by. They average 13.6 turnovers per game and are just 5–12 when winning the turnover battle. This is the second time the Knicks will take on New Orleans this year, with RJ Barrett posting 35 points in the previous win.
2.) Limit Jonas Valanciunas and Brandon Ingram
If the Knicks want to stop New Orleans, limiting Jonas Valanciunas and Brandon Ingram is the most efficient strategy.
Valanciunas is averaging 18.4 points and 12 rebounds per game as one of New Orleans’s best players. Ingram is contributing 22.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.2 assists out of the small forward position. They are far and away their best players without Zion available.
Luckily for the Knicks, they have fantastic interior defense, but Valanciunas is shooting 42.4% from three-point range as a big man, which is an incredible number. Ingram is hitting 34%, but the Pelicans are shooting 33.7% as a team, giving the Knicks a healthy advantage from beyond the arc.
3.) Need more from Immanuel Quickley at point guard
With Derrick Rose still several weeks away from being evaluated to return, the Knicks have had to rely on their youth and veteran Alec Burks supplement the point guard position. Walker was offensively effective in their most recent loss to the Timberwolves, but the team simply needs more from Quickley at point guard when he is on the floor.
Over the last four games, Quickley has scored double-digit points just once again Charlotte with 12.
Quickley also recorded 7.0 assists against Charlotte, but in the other three games during that four-game stretch, he has a total of just five assists and 11 points.
The entire bench has been off recently, but the team needs Quickley to find his groove and offer quality play in the absence of Rose.