3 keys for the Knicks to take down short-handed Bucks team

The Milwaukee Bucks are coming off an impressive win or the Philadelphia 76ers, but they will be shorthanded against the New York Knicks on Wednesday evening. Khris Middleton is still dealing with COVID-19 protocols and is unlikely to play against New York, and guard Jrue Holliday is still rehabilitating from an injury, despite playing 31 minutes on Tuesday night against Philly.

The Knicks are relatively healthy, but with Nerlens Noel suffering a knee injury against the 76ers, expect to see more Taj Gibson and hopefully Mitchell Robinson. Robinson missed Monday’s game with a hip flexor injury, and if he’s unable to go, New York will have to rely on Gibson and potentially rookie Jericho Sims as their primary centers.

Three keys for the Knicks to take down the Bucks:

1.) Persistent defense

The Knicks overcame a 21 point deficit in their most recent victory over Milwaukee, but they have struggled at home the season. During the second half of their win, they played fantastic defense, limiting the Bucks to 35 points after giving up 38 in the first quarter. If they can maintain that level of play and guard the perimeter adequately, they have a great chance of winning this game.

Of course, limiting Giannis Antetokounmpo is the priority, given he scored 31 points against Philly on Tuesday, but they can’t forget about Grayson Allen, who has been on fire as of late, shooting 41.5% from deep and averaging 15.5 points per game in the absence of Middleton.

2.) Guard the perimeter with aggression

Speaking of three-point shooting, the Knicks have been extremely poor guarding the perimeter this season. Giving Allen and Bobby Portis opportunities from three-point range is simply an unacceptable factor in this game. If they can play aggressive defense from deep, forcing Milwaukee to beat them inside, they can use their quality three-point shooting as leverage.

The Knicks found themselves digging out of holes early in games this season, primarily due to lackluster play from Kemba Walker, specifically on defense. His three-point shooting has nosedived the past three games, making his production a liability.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Derrick Rose start the game and Tom Thibodeau ease Walker in at the right moments, as fighting out of deficits simply isn’t a winning strategy.

3.) Quality 3-PT shooting

It wasn’t more than a week ago that the Knicks were a top three team in three-point percentage, but they have fallen to sixth at 36.5%. The Knicks have struggled shooting from deep recently, connecting on 32.5% against Philadelphia on Monday and 29% against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The drop-off in efficiency has hurt the team tremendously, and against a team like the Bucks who can get hot from range, they need to be able to match. Thankfully, second-year guard Immanuel Quickley has started shooting much better from deep, so expect to see him get significantly more minutes in the coming days, especially with Walker struggling.

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