The New York Knicks set the stage for what hopes to be a fantastic 2021–22 season after emerging from the trenches after years of dismal performance. The Knicks now have a stellar group of starting players with adequate depth, which contributed significantly in the win over Boston on Wednesday evening.
New York will look to roll over that exciting and momentous game as they prepare to take on the Orlando Magic away. The Magic struggled in their first contest of the season against the San Antonio Spurs, losing by 26 points. Winning 138–134 in double overtime, it was veterans Julius Randle and Evan Fournier who contributed the most, combining for 67 points and nine three-point hits.
Orlando’s defense was consistently shredded, as the bench was awful in the defeat. On the other side of the ball, the Spurs were able to run all over them offensively, connecting on 43% of their three-point attempts and 50% from the field.
Three keys to beating the Orlando Magic for the Knicks:
1.) Limit star rookie Jalen Suggs
Orlando is looking to get rookie Jalen Suggs active often to open the year. Suggs contributed just 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting, connecting on just 1-of-6 three-point attempts. He turned the ball over three times and collected one rebound over 30 minutes.
If the Knicks can force Suggs to make mistakes and expose his youth, they can create more offensive opportunities and rack up the score without much resistance. Orlando’s bench is thin, aside from Terrence Ross, who contributed 15 points on 50% shooting.
2.) Control the Bamba
One of Orlando’s more prominent players is Mo Bamba, who added 18 points, four blocks, four assists, and four rebounds over 27 minutes. He shot 6-of-8 from the field and 3-of-4 from three-point range. As a modernized center, Bamba has the qualities to be a dominant player, so expect a lot of attention from Mitchell Robinson, who earned 17 rebounds in the win over Boston.
Bamba is looking to take a step forward after a solid 2020-21 season, averaging eight points, 1.3 blocks, 5.8 rebounds, and a 47% field-goal rate over through 46 games. I wouldn’t expect him to maintain such a high efficiency from three-point range, so the Knicks should have a significant advantage in their second game of the season.
3.) Don’t play down to competition
Ultimately, as long as the Knicks don’t play down to the competition, Orlando doesn’t even compare to the quality that Boston has an offense. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are capable of dominating games alone, as New York discovered after Brown posted 46 points on them in the opener.
Luckily, the Knicks’ defense didn’t seem to take a big step backward, as they limited Boston to 47 points in quarters 2-3. As long as their sharpshooters are connecting and the team is communicating efficiently, game two of the regular season should be a walk in the park, but it will be a good opportunity for the Knicks to showcase their dominance.