The New York Knicks are preparing to take on the red hot Phoenix Suns on Friday evening, who have won 14 games straight, with recent wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs. While Phoenix has enjoyed somewhat of a light schedule up to this point, the Knicks have an opportunity to end their impressive streak.
However, it is going to take every player at the top of their game to dismantle the Suns, who’ve been lethal offensively this season.
Three keys for the Knicks to take down Suns:
1.) Limit Chris Paul
Limiting Chris Paul is easier said than done, as heâ€™s averaging 14.1 points, 10.4 assists, and 2.1 steals per game. He is still an elite point guard and is incredibly intelligent with a ball in his hands. When heâ€™s not scoring, heâ€™s facilitating, so finding ways to keep him at bay is a priority for New York.
â€œItâ€™s just incredible,â€ Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said this week when asked about Paul. â€œI think heâ€™s always been a great player. His career speaks for itself. He went through a stretch where he had injuries, but the way heâ€™s taking care of his body and heâ€™s sort of just navigated that and heâ€™s been healthy, I think you see what his leadership has done for that team. Heâ€™s brought the best out of them.â€
I would love to see Immanuel Quickley have a chance to guard Paul with his aggressive press style, they should put more full-court pressure on the star PG.
2.) Devin Booker can’t be given space to shoot
Phoenixâ€™s top scorer this season is Devin Booker, who is averaging 23.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game. Booker has once again elevated his play, facilitating efficiently but also scoring at an incredibly high clip. Heâ€™s connecting on nearly 40% of his three-point attempts and 45.1% from the field.
The Knicks have had trouble guarding the perimeter this season at times, and if they give Booker too much space and open looks at the basket, he will make them pay. Having aggressive perimeter defense is essential to limiting Devin coming off a 35-point performance against Cleveland.
3.) Knicks’ starters need to step up
The Knicks’ starting unit canâ€™t have another deficient game, not against Phoenix. The Suns currently have the third-best defensive rating in basketball, as the Knicks sit at 16th, a big increase from just a week ago.
If the starters are unable to contribute significantly, they will have to once again rely on their second team, who donâ€™t have the capacity to match the offensive production of Phoenix. Luckily for New York, Julius Randle is coming off two consecutive games, posting 20+ points, and heâ€™s finally finding his groove.
The team needs more from starting point guard Kemba Walker, who has scored single-digit points in his last four contests with a minimum of 18 minutes. For New York to be a competitor in this matchup, they need Walker to be an offensive threat, knocking down his 3-PT attempts consistently.