This upcoming week for the New York Knicks, is a must win week. All three teams have a .500 or below record, two of the three will be on the road. For Tom Thibodeau and his young team, road wins prove if the Knicks can contend in the East.
Knicks vs Heat (2-9)
Following Sunday afternoon’s game, the way for New York to beat Miami is known, just needs to be executed. During Sunday’s game, the Heat used everybody on the team to help contribute. Miami’s crisp passing, and willingness to find the open guy led to their win. For the Knicks to win on Tuesday, they’ll have to limit the open looks and have to hit their shots. Coming of a 44.7 shooting percentage, the Knicks have to find a rhythm quick. While Reggie Bullock had a Knicks career high 21 points, and had seven threes, that isn’t sustainable. The same has to be said for Taj Gibson. The 9 points in 16 minutes was a welcome addition to Sunday’s game, but likely won’t be duplicated.
Beating Miami on the road will be harder for the Knicks, now with Miami at full strength. If the Knicks can build off the defensive momentum of Sunday, I like their chances. Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett have to have an impact on this game for the Knicks to win. Coming off the back to back this weekend, the two young players put up a combined 8 points. Only Quickley played in crunch time, and didn’t have his usual effect on the game. With Miami frequently using double teams in the last meeting, look for the Knicks to look for the open man and use less of the shot clock.
New York needs to find the hot hand as soon as possible, and keep feeding him. Look for the defense’s to be on full display again in South Beach.
Knicks vs Wizards (2-12)
When the Knicks head to Washington, they face the conundrum that is the Washington Wizards. On one hand, they have Bradley Beal, the NBA scoring leader. On the other hand, Washington can’t stop anybody from scoring. This matchup features the number one points per game defense in the New York Knicks, giving up 103.9, Washington easily is the worst in the league, ranking thirtieth giving up 121.2. With an even more alarming 125.2 at home. Washington is one of the worst teams in the NBA, to no fault of Bradley Beal, though. The 27 year old from Florida, is having a ridiculous season. Beal’s 33.3 points per game is a career high, Beal’s also been shooting a very efficient 45.6 percent from the field. The “Free Bradley Beal” movement is alive and well, Beal’s 24.78 player efficiency rating is ninth in the Association, and a must stop for the Knicks.
While Beal deserves the attention this season, another player the Knicks can’t forget about is Russell Westbrook. If the Knicks can stop Beal and Westbrook, I believe the Knicks have a easy road to winning this game. After the two of them, the scoring takes a noticeable dip and the Knicks can capitalize. With New York facing a Washington team who doesn’t have crazy depth like past opponents, I expect the Knicks to win easily. For New York to win, the mental mistakes need to be limited facing inferior competition. Another key to this game will be the guard play. If the Knicks can hold Beal and Westbrook in check, this game becomes an even easier win. The New York Knicks have to make sure they account for all Wizards, and not let the role players torch them.
Knicks vs Rockets (2-13)
Luckily for the Knicks, they won’t have to matchup with the new look Christian Wood. First year coach Stephen Silas has had his hands full already. Between the James Harden fiasco, and a load of new talent, Houston’s been an interesting team so far this year. John Wall has returned after a year away due to injury, and has stepped up in the wake of Harden’s departure.
Another Kentucky Wildcat who has had a resurgence this year is, DeMarcus Cousins. The former best center in the NBA, didn’t contribute a lot the past few seasons, and is starting to regain his former form. Cousins averages 8.8 points and 7.3 rebounds, mostly coming off the bench. Seeing him potentially going against Nerlens Noel, and Mitchell Robinson will be great matchups. The Rockets have a couple of bench players, with the best player efficiency ratings, Sterling Brown and Mason Jones don’t light up the scoring column. The tandem do bridge the gap from the starters, and will cause a hassle for the Knicks bench.
With Victor Oladipo‘s future in doubt, he’s having an impressive season with 19.4 points and is another weapon for Houston. Between Oladipo, Wall and Cousins, it’ll be a hard game for the Knicks. I do think the Knicks will get the win, and this could be an early signature win for Thibs. Both sides have a ton of young talent, and the role players will shine in this one.
Week Wrap Up
Following a 2-2 week, the Knicks really need these three. Winning these games will prove to the Knicks they can contend in the East. New York also needs a true second option to show themselves this week. RJ Barrett has proven he isn’t ready yet, I’m not sure who they guy is but I do think we will know this time next week.