The New York Knicks are coming off an impressive win over the Milwaukee Bucks, but they have an underrated Miami Heat team on the schedule for Monday evening. While the Knicks currently have the best defense in the NBA, allowing a league-low 104.7 points, the Heat are close behind in fourth place, allowing 108 points.
However, with New York losing Mitchell Robinson, their starting center, to a fractured right foot, they will have to supplement his loss with Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson. Luckily, they have two solid veterans who can fill the void, but Robinsonâ€™s energy and shot-blocking ability will be missed for the next few weeks, if not months.
Three keys for the Knicks to beat Miami:
1.) Protect the perimeter from Tyler Hero
While Tyler Herro is having somewhat of a down season, averaging 15.4 points over 31.9 minutes, he is still a very capable three-point shooter. Heâ€™s averaging .320% from downtown on 5.7 attempts per game, far below his impressive .389% in 2020. Nonetheless, you can never be too careful with a sharpshooter like Herro, who can get hot at any moment and string together points at a quick rate. The Knicks have a suffocating defense, and they must protect the perimeter from Miamiâ€™s top shooters.
2.) Pass away from Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler is known as one of the best defenders in the NBA, aside from also being an incredibly efficient scorer. This season, heâ€™s averaging 21.3 points per game, his highest since 2018. Heâ€™s also averaging 2.0 steals and 0.4 blocks, indicating he fills passing lanes very efficiently. If the Knicks want to work around him, they need to force him to travel into the corner and keep him out of passing lanes to the interior. Butler is fantastic at telegraphing passes and turning around in transition, so New York needs to take him out of the middle of the court and force him into the corners.
Whether he matches up against Julius Randle or RJ Barrett, the alternative needs to step up and provide an offensively proficient game.
3.) Take advantage of latest losing streak
One thing the Knicks do have in their favor is that the Heat are currently on a six-game losing streak, allowing over 109 points in the last five contests.
New York is on a three-game win streak and has won four of their last five, despite beating mediocre opponents. Milwaukee represents an elite-level team, but they were missing several healthy players. This is a good opportunity for New York to be an adequate team that has a similar record, and considering theyâ€™re coming off six consecutive losses, their morale is likely low.