The New York Knicks are gearing up to take on the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday evening, just a day after announcing they would be starting Alec Burks as the primary point guard moving forward. With Kemba Walker struggling defensively, the Knicks ultimately had to make a big decision to spark the starting unit.
â€œItâ€™s a tough decision to make,â€ Thibodeau said after announcing Kemba Walker would be pulled from the rotation, â€œbut you always have to do what you think is best for the team. â€¦ Iâ€™ve got great respect for who Kemba is as a person, number one, and all that heâ€™s accomplished in this league.â€
Three keys for the Knicks to take down a strong Nets team:
1.) Double Kevin Durant
One of the best scorers in NBA history is Kevin Durant, so stopping him is incredibly difficult. Durant is leading Brooklyn with 28.6 points per game over 35.6 minutes. Heâ€™s also contributing 5.4 assists and 7.6 rebounds. When you have a player like Durant who is capable of driving to the rim but also knocking down three-point shots at an incredible rate, it makes things a bit more difficult.
Durant is hitting 41.1% of the shots from deep and 54.8% from the field, showcasing one of the best all-around scores in the league currently. The Knicks essentially have to double-team him as much as possible and force the Nets’ other players to win the game for them. Without Nicolas Claxton and Blake Griffin being dropped from the rotation, the Knicks have an advantage on the boards, but they have to guard the perimeter well.
2.) Lockdown defense on the perimeter
The Knicks have done a solid job guarding the perimeter the past few weeks, but Brooklyn ranks 2nd in three-point percentage as a team, landing at 37.5%. However, they are only attempting 34.4 per game, good for 20th in the NBA.
Aggressive defense on the perimeter will force Brooklyn to go inside, where theyâ€™ve struggled this year. Hopefully, the team will have Nerlens Noel back, who is questionable for the contest. Mitchell Robinson will have to step up and play solid defense and dominate the defensive rebounds.
3.) Hit open shots
The Knicks canâ€™t let opportunities go to waste against Brooklyn. When they have open shots, they need to be knocking them down consistently, otherwise, it will be a long evening. Against Atlanta, New York hit 37.9% from three-point range and 43.9% from the field, holding the Hawks just 24.3% from deep.
When the Knicks are hitting their open looks from range, they’re an incredibly difficult team to beat, especially when their defense is on point. As stated before, limiting Kevin Durant is virtually impossible, but making life incredibly difficult for him is something they can achieve. Hopefully, the newfound reliance on Burks to operate as the starting point guard will increase their production out of the gates.