Knicks desperation leads to Bucks domination

Zach Macer
tom thibodeau, knicks
Oct 28, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau reacts in the second quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday night, the New York Knicks suffered their second loss of the season to the Milwaukee Bucks at the Fiserv Forum. The loss of 119-108 doesn’t particularly show the story.

The game wasn’t always a domination from the get-go. At halftime, the Bucks only lead by six. Their biggest lead of the game at that point was eight points. However, early in the third quarter, the Knicks allowed 18 unanswered points to create the gap that would eventually lead to the Bucks’ win.

How exactly did the Knicks allow 18 straight points in two minutes and 34 seconds? Desperation.

The Knicks simply didn’t play team basketball efficiently:

As the first of the Bucks’ buckets in the run were scored, the Knicks reverted to isolation offense. The Knicks players on the court relied on themselves to try and get the job done, however it only made things worse as it led to the Bucks’ run.

The isolations seemed like a flashback for the Knicks, who just last season were the 12th most frequent isolation team but were fifth worst in isolation efficiency. They only scored just under 40 percent of their isolation opportunities.

The Bucks’ lineup during the run didn’t help either. Mike Budenholzer, the Bucks’ head coach, decided to play a lineup that featured big men Bobby Portis, Brook Lopez (who leads the NBA in blocks per game), and former NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Leading up to their game against the Knicks, the three had only played one minute together the entire season. The taller lineup gave the Bucks size mismatches at every position, and the Knicks clear difficulty to get past them one on one.

Bucks turning defense into offense during their 18-0 run in the 3rd quarter

Even with the mismatches, they dug their heads in the dirt and continued to fight one on one. It brought the run that turned a 59-53 halftime score into 90-66 in just the first eight minutes of the third quarter. The biggest culprit through the run was the same as the culprit last year: Julius Randle. The forward was isolated 21.8 percent of the time last season, the seventh most time by any player in the NBA. However, he only had .86 points per possession when he was isolated. The Knicks ended with a record of 37-45 and were the 11th seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Knicks had done a good job to stay away from the frequent isolating this season up to that game, and it had helped them. Before the game against the Bucks, the Knicks were the 6th rated offense in the entire NBA. However, with five games played, the Knicks still have loads of games to show what their true identity is.

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