The New York Knicks emerged victorious against the Indiana Pacers on Monday night, scoring 92 points and giving up 84. While this wasnâ€™t exactly the offensive master-class they had hoped for, holding the Pacers to 84 points was simply a magisterial performance on defense. A feisty Knicks unit held Indiana to just 10 points in the fourth quarter, including field-goal-less in the last seven minutes.
However, it wasnâ€™t all positives for New York, who watched center, Mitchell Robinson leave the game early due to ankle soreness. Taj Gibson stepped in to fill the void, playing 29 minutes and contributing fantastic energy and defense for the remainder of the game.
Robinson has been dealing with a variety of issues, including a hip flexor injury. He has missed just one game this year on November 8 against the Philadelphia 76ers, and thereâ€™s no telling if he will miss any more time with the new ankle issue. After missing more than half of last season with a fractured foot and hand, the Knicks desperately need him to be more reliable.
Hopefully, Nerlens Noel can return from a right knee injury he sustained several nights ago. In the meantime, New York will have to rely on Gibson and rookie Jericho Sims, but they have been rolling with Obi Toppin and Julius Randle at times to help protect the rim. They don’t offer the same defensive protection in the paint, so getting their big-men healthy is a priority.
The Knicks are seeing the development of Immanuel Quickley blossom before their eyes:
If not for a tremendous performance for Immanuel Quickley against Indiana, the Knicks mightâ€™ve dropped the third consecutive game. Quickley scored 16 points over 23 minutes, hitting all four of his three-point attempts. He also collected five rebounds and an assist.
Quickley is showcasing his development over the past few games, posting a high of 18 against Milwaukee last Wednesday and a low of just nine against Charlotte. Heâ€™s shooting 32.7% from deep this year due to a slow start, but heâ€™s ranged from a low of 40% to a high of 100% over the past five games.
As long as Quickley continues to play aggressive defense and hit his shots, Tom Thibodeau will be forced to feature him more, which is a best-case scenario. Considering New Yorkâ€™s poor perimeter defense this year, Quickley has provided energy and effort frequently to give his team an advantage on both sides of the ball. The Kentucky product made it a priority to improve his defense this past off-season, and it is paying off in dividends early in the year.
While Quickley lacks size and vertical athleticism, he has developed a fantastic floater and uses his agility and speed to put defenders off balance. The growth of his offensive capabilities are on full display, and as his confidence grows, his production should follow. Defensively, he’s been tasked with putting pressure on the perimeter and full-court which has done him well.