3 keys for the Knicks to overcome putrid Rockets team

The New York Knicks are coming off a disappointing defeat to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night, and they will be looking to bounce back against another poor opponent in the Houston Rockets. The Rockets have lost 13 consecutive games and have been out-scored significantly in most of them.

The Knicks need to view this as a get-right game, using Houston as a trampoline to propel themselves forward against better opposition. Good teams dominate bad ones, so we will learn a lot about a New York team that is struggling to utilize their chemistry and fluidity on offense. The starters must step up and take the reins once again instead of relying on the second team to produce and supplement their deficiencies.

Three keys for the Knicks to beat the Rockets at home:

1.) Play Knicks basketball

Knicks basketball starts and ends with one thing, dominant interior defense. The Rockets have a few adequate players, one of them being Christian Wood, their center. Limiting him in the paint is essential, but the Knicks also need to score efficiently from beyond the arc. The Knicks seem to identify themselves as a live-by-the-three-pointer style of team, and if that’s going to be the case, they need to be in the top five 3-point percentage. Currently, the Knicks rank 6th in the league at 36.4%, a number that has been plummeting over the past few weeks.

The Knicks have started to settle down in attempts from range, recording 13.9 per game, good for 10th in the NBA. When they are knocking down shots at an efficient clip, their percentage usually increases, but it hasn’t been enough to beat some of the more vulnerable squads on their schedule.

Unfortunately, New York hasn’t been able to pair good three-point shooting with excellent perimeter defense, something that has improved in recent days with Immanuel Quickley playing great press, but they need more from the starting unit.

2.) Protect the paint

As stated above, limiting Christian Wood must be a priority, given his 16.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game. Wood is not an elite 3-point shooter by any means, and with Nerlens Noel expected to return on Saturday night, this is a great opportunity for the Knicks to bounce back with some great defensive play.

Taj Gibson has filled the role of Noel in recent days as he heals from a right knee injury, and with Mitchell Robinson also beat up at times, the Knicks have lacked interior strength and rebounding. Noel is not only a great shot blocker, but he is a solid rebounder who gives the Knicks more second opportunities.

3.) Press-guard Jalen Green

One matchup that could be highly beneficial for the Knicks is Immanuel Quickley press-guarding Jalen Green, Houston’s star rookie. Green is averaging 14.4 points per game on 36.5% shooting from the field and 27.9% shooting from three. He has undoubtedly struggled with his shooting to open his NBA account, but he is still a quality young player the Knicks can’t underestimate.

Quickley has found his groove on defense and offense, but his ability to stay in the face of a ball-handler and press them full court has proved to be tremendous in their perimeter strategy.

I would love to see Quickley get significant minutes in this contest, showcasing what he can do on both sides of the ball.

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