The New York Knicks are coming off an impressive win over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday evening, demolishing them 125-81. Julius Randle alone scored more points in the first quarter than Detroit in that same timeframe. He finished the day with 29 points, as the highest scorer for Detroit landed at 16, with three players hitting double digits.
The Knicks were simply on fire, as Reggie Bullock, who played 28 minutes, connected on 8-of-12 shots from the field and 6-of-10 from downtown, logging 22 total points. RJ Barrett contributed 14, and rookie Obi Toppin earned eight, showing off another developmental step in his progression.
However, they have a significant challenge against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night, but thankfully Brooklyn is coming off a disappointing loss to the Chicago Bulls and could be fatigued for the contest. Nonetheless, head coach Steve Nash believes that Kevin Durant could return against their crosstown rivals, which would pose a significant threat for the Knicks, despite displaying confidence after their victory over Detroit.
Three keys for the Knicks to beat the Nets:
1.) Stellar defense is a MUST for the Knicks
The Knicks currently have the top defense in the NBA, allowing just 103.9 points per game, better than Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz. The Nets, on the other hand, are allowing the 25th most points per game, with 114.3. Alternatively, they ranked second in offensive scoring, with 119 per game. For what the Nets lack on defense, they make up easily in offense, as they currently lead the NBA in field-goal percentage at 49.4%.
Ultimately, the Knicks are going to have to shut them down on defense, playing aggressive basketball, and protecting the perimeter from their elite shooters. This will not be an easy contest, especially with James Harden and Kyrie Irving expected to feature.
2.) Julius Randle must have a big game
The last time the Knicks faced off against Brooklyn, they lost by five points, and Julius Randle scored 33 points. If they want to be competitive in this matchup, they must extract the most from Randle, who played 41 minutes last time around.
Coming off a fantastic performance against Detroit, we should expect Randle to be effective, as he normally is. However, there are times where he plays inconsistent basketball and turns the ball over unnecessarily. As long as he plays clean and doesn’t try to force things, he should lead the way for the Knicks against Brooklyn.
3.) knicks must be efficient from down-town
There’s one clear distinction between the Knicks playing well and poorly, and it is their efficiency from downtown. The Knicks don’t have a single player in the top 50 in three-point shots made per game.
Coach Tom Thibodeau loves playing in the paint, especially since the roster doesn’t have any elite three-point shooters. Brooklyn is extremely efficient in that category, especially with Joe Harris and James Harden capable of launching shots from anywhere on the floor. In fact, Harris, Harden, and Kyrie Irving rank in the top 25 in three-pointers made per game. The Knicks will have to keep up one way or another, so they must defend well on the perimeter and knocked down their shots when they have open the looks.