Let the games begin, the New York Knicks are scheduled to face off against the Denver Nuggets, who are currently locked into the fourth seed in the Western Conference on Wednesday evening. Denver is no pushover, as the Knicks prepare for a four-game stretch where they take on the Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, LA Clippers, and Los Angeles Lakers, all of which are in top-six seeds in the West.
This will be a true challenge for the Knicks, who have won 12 of their last 13 games but havenâ€™t had any significant challenges, aside from Phoenix, who represents their only loss during that stretch. Nonetheless, New York is more than capable of hanging with these teams, as the Knicks shouldâ€™ve beat Phoenix if not for Julius Randle struggling and Chris Paul working some magic at the end. Randle having inadequate games is an anomaly these days, having posted 28 points against the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday and 31 points against Houston on Sunday.
Three keys to beating the Denver Nuggets for the Knicks:
1.) Defense, defense, defense
The main task for New York is to limit any given team defensively, using their aggressive and suffocating style of play.
The Knicks rank first in the NBA in points allowed per game, with just 104.6. In comparison to Denver, they are allowing an average of 109.9, which is a significant difference. However, Denver has three elite scorers on their team, including Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr., who are averaging 19+ points per game. However, Jamal Murray suffered a season-ending injury, so he wonâ€™t be available for Denver’s remainder of the season, giving the Knicks a slight advantage.
If the Knicks realistically want to walk away with a win, they are going to need to play elite defense, which we know they are capable of doing. As long as they can stop Denver from blowing this one open and scoring 120+ points, the Knicks will have a chance at keeping a close. The usual method for New York is late-game fatigue, which allows their opponents to turn on the afterburner’s and hit shots to pull away. The squad has done a much better job closing out games and playing solid defense, meaning they will need to continue that trend.
2.) Limit the big two
As stated before, stopping Jokic and Porter Jr. must be the priority. Jokic is averaging 26.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 8.5 assist as a center, which is absolutely mind-blowing. Porter has earned 18.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, and has turned the ball over just 1.2 times, showcasing his skills.
The Knicks have a great defense, but this team is capable of blowing out anybody with ease, and they are also enjoying a nice win streak of their own. They most recently fell to the Los Angeles Lakers but have won nine of their last 11 games.
3.) Julius Randle must play ELITE basketball
Thereâ€™s one simple truth to New York, as long as Julius Randle is playing elite-level basketball, the rest of the team rallies around him. His co-star, RJ Barrett, turns up the notch when Randle is hitting shots consistently. It doesnâ€™t seem like the first time All-Star is ready to slow down anytime soon, showing off impeccable stamina and consistency the past few months. In addition, veteran point guard Derrick Rose seems rejuvenated, even looking like his vintage self at times. Pairing Rose with Randle and Barrett has proved to be a nice trio.