The New York Knicks are looking to bounce back after a disappointing defeat to the Orlando Magic on Sunday evening, but the season gets no easier as they welcome the Philadelphia 76ers to The Garden on Tuesday evening.
Philadelphia represents a far more superior team compared to Orlando, having lost just one game over their first three contests. Their only loss came against the Brooklyn Nets, scoring a minimum of 109 points to start the year. Their most recent game against the Oklahoma City Thunder went quite well, winning by 12 points and scoring 115.
Stopping the 76ers on offense is a difficult task, so the Knicks will have to be on their game both offensively and defensively to limit Philadelphia. They have several premium scorers, including Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, and Seth Curry. I would be remiss not to mention Danny Green and Tyrese Maxey.
Nonetheless, let’s take a look at a few keys for the Knicks to overcome Philadelphia in their fourth game of the year.
Three keys for the Knicks to take down the 76ers:
1.) Elite defense is required
The Knicks can’t allow individual performers to have big games against them. While it is impossible to limit star players completely, they were destroyed by Cole Anthony and Terrence Ross on Sunday against Orlando. The pairing combined for 51 points, and Ross shad all of his production in the fourth quarter to give his team a late lead.
Philadelphia has too many quality players to limit just one, so New York must play elite defense if they want to give themselves an advantage.
Currently, the Knicks rank 12th in defensive rating; they do sit in the top 10 in both steals and blocks, but those two statistics don’t directly correlate to good defense all the time. They need to curate stops and insufficient shooting opportunities for their opposition, something they failed to do against the Magic.
Philadelphia is an elite team with fantastic players, but focusing on limiting Embiid should be their first priority. He is currently averaging 21 points per game and shooting 46.2% from three-point range.
2.) The Knicks MUST hit their 3-PT shots
After the Knicks set a franchise record in their first game against Orlando away, they bounced back with a disappointing performance in the category, hitting just 27% of their attempts. The entire team was off from range as Julius Randle hit two shots from deep on ten attempts. RJ Barrett went 1-for-7, and Evan Fournier was 2-for-7.
The lack of production from beyond the arc lost New York the game, showing a vulnerability. The Knicks can’t identify themselves living by the three-pointer, which is why Randle tried to pick up the slack in isolation, which unfortunately just slowed down the team’s communication and passing opportunities.
Nonetheless, we know they’re capable of being an elite three-pointing shooting team. New York must be more efficient against Philadelphia if they want to have any chance at emerging victorious.
3.) The best version of Julius Randle is needed
Despite Julius Randle posting 30 points against Orlando in their most recent defeat, he shot just 8-of-24 from the field and 20% from three-point range. He needs to hit more shots and be more efficient with his selection, which seemed poor as he tried to do everything himself in the fourth quarter.
When the Knicks are passing efficiently and moving the ball well, there are not many teams that can keep up, so Randle needs to focus on facilitating in addition to scoring. He tallied just three assists, his lowest over the first three games.
In the win over Orlando, Julius posted seven assists and nine against Boston. Clearly, he was off his game on Sunday, but he should bounce back against Philadelphia.
Dominating the boards is one way the Knicks can hold an advantage, which will require a big game from Mitchell Robinson. The now-muscular center is averaging 12.0 rebounds per game, a number he will need to maintain against a physical Joel Embiid. This is a great opportunity for him to show off his increased strength.