The New York Knicks are preparing to take on the Phoenix Suns on Monday evening in an attempt to stretch their winning streak 210 games. The Suns, however, ranked second in the Western Conference and will be a significant challenge for a New York team that has elevated their level of play recently.
Phoenix has a stellar team, led by Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton, and Chris Paul. I would be remiss not to mention Mikal Bridges as well, as the Suns have a very talented starting five, with four of them averaging over 13 points per game.
Stopping them will be incredibly difficult for the Knicks, but luckily they host the number one defense in the NBA and have regularly kept teams below 105 points, giving themselves a great chance of extracting victory on any given evening.
However, Starting Center Nerlens Noel understands that thereâ€™s a lot more work to do and goals to accomplish.
“There’s still so much work to do,” Noel said Sunday. “But I think it’s a special moment, special year, special season. And you really want to cap it off in the best way possible.”
Three keys to beating the Phoenix Suns for the Knicks:
1. Maintain a lead
Even Phoenix forward Torrey Craig admitted that the team struggles when they donâ€™t have the lead. He suggested that they have to play better with a lead and learn how to stay composed throughout the game, and with the Knicks’ tantalizing defense, it will be difficult for them to break away.
As long as Tom Thibodeau and his team remain committed to their biggest strength, they will be in this contest, and thereâ€™s no doubt they can emerge victorious when considering their most recent success.
2. Limit Chris Paul
Limiting Chris Paul is easier said than done, as heâ€™s averaging 16 points per game, 8.7 assists, and 4.6 rebounds. He ranks fifth in total assists and 52nd in points, as heâ€™s experienced somewhat of a resurgence with Phoenix this year.
As long as the Knicks protect the paint and keep defenders on Paul, they can limit his influence, but he will leave his mark one way or another. Alternatively, their biggest problem might be Devin Booker, whoâ€™s averaging 25.3 points, as the Suns’ leading scorer. While his three-point percentage is lacking this year, heâ€™s incredibly talented from mid-range and driving to the rim. Protecting the elbow and perimeter will be important, and thankfully the Knicks will have their star shot blocker this year, Noel, available to help protect the interior.
3. Batman and Robin must score
The Knicks’ offense simply runs through Julius Randle and RJ Barrett, who are having themselves stellar seasons thus far. Randle earned his first All-Star appearance this year, averaging 24 points per game and 10.5 rebounds over 37.5 minutes. Barrett, on the other hand, is averaging 17.6 points and 5.7 rebounds, showing an incredible developmental leap this season.
The chemistry that Randle and Barrett have shown has not only fueled the team but help supplement a less than inspiring offense at times. As long as those two are playing efficient basketball and producing on the scoreboard, the Knicks always have a good chance of emerging victorious.