The New York Knicks are staring a significant challenge right in the face as they prepared to take on an elevating Houston Rockets team on Thursday night. On the back of four consecutive losses, the Knicks are desperate for a win, watching their record drop to 12â€“16, good for last place in the Atlantic standings behind Toronto, Boston, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn.
If the postseason started today, the Knicks wouldnâ€™t even be a play-in team, but they have plenty of time to make up ground and string together a few wins to build confidence.
However, their matchup against Houston got a lot more difficult on Thursday, as the team announced reserve forward Kevin Knox will be out due to health and safety protocols.
Knicks announce that Kevin Knox II (health and safety protocols) is out for tonight’s game at Houston.
He joins RJ Barrett, Quentin Grimes and Obi Toppin – who has also been ruled out for tonight's contest.
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) December 16, 2021
The Knicks will roll on without Knox, RJ Barrett, Quentin Grimes, and Obi Toppin. Barrett and Toppin are expected to make a return in the coming days as they inch toward the 10-day minimum for Covid related suspension.
In the Knicks’ most recent lost Golden State, they heavily relied on reserves like Miles McBride and Knox, who posted 20 minutes in the loss. They may have to bring Kemba Walker back into the lineup with so many players out, despite head coach Tom Thibodeau trying his best to avoid that situation, given the optics.
However, giving Walker a chance to redeem himself and showcase better efficiency could be a reasonable way to spark the team and provide a different element that Houston isnâ€™t entirely expecting.
Houston is coming off a blowout loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, allowing 124 points. Their primary players are Christian Wood, Eric Gordon, and rookie Jalen Green.
The last time Houston faced off against New York, they fell 106â€“99, watching Alec Burks post 20 points and hit 6 of 7 three-point shots off the bench. They will have a far more advantageous situation given the Knicks’ depth situation at the moment. In addition, since they lost to New York, Houston has won eight of their last 11 games but have dropped three of their last four. Their most recent victory against the Atlanta Hawks was a masterclass of offensive production (132 points).
Despite New Yorkâ€™s inept defense this year, Houston ranks even worse in defensive rating at 25th compared to New Yorkâ€™s 23rd. In addition, they are the 21st ranked three-point shooting team and 24th ranked team in field goal percentage.