The New York Knicks brought their talents to Boston and got a much needed road victory. Will they make it two in a row tonight?
With the odds stacked against them, the Knicks came out last night and put together their best team performance on the season, beating the Celtics in Boston, 117-106. On a night where Kristaps Porzingis and Joakim Noah didn’t play and Carmelo Anthony shot 5 of 14 for 13 points, the Knicks mustered up a gutsy victory against a playoff caliber team.
"Do you guys still believe we can make the playoffs?" Jeff Hornacek's rallying cry before Knicks shocked the Celtics https://t.co/dAfoDo4nY4
Unfortunately, I did predict that the Knicks would fall short in Boston. However, I did allude to the fact that the Knicks can go out and show opposing teams that they are willing to battle and defend for a full 48 minutes. Last night, the Knicks did just that.
The Knicks bench scored 55 points, and the team as a whole had 27 assists. With that type of production, the Knicks will be hard to beat every night.
Mindaugas Kuzminskas had 17 points, six rebounds, two assists in 29 minutes. Willy Hernangomez had 17 points, 11 rebounds, and a +/- 9 in just 20 minutes of play.
Last night’s game proved that Hernangomez should be playing more minutes.
With a core of Kyle O’Quinn, Hernangomez, and Marshall Plumlee, the Knicks have a formidable front line with a lot of growing potential. On the other hand, Noah’s ceiling was reached a few years ago, and his inability to score or make free throws is hurting the Knicks.
Hornacek is sure to have his hands full with the rotation when Porzingis and Noah return from their respective ankle injuries.
Their status for tonight’s game is still unclear, however, all signs to do point to holding Porzingis out of his fifth straight game. The Knicks want to make sure that Porzingis is 100% before returning to the lineup, and Saturday’s matchup against the Phoenix Suns seems like the best bet.
Nevertheless, the Knicks will look to their bench for similar production against the Wizards.
John Wall is averaging 22.9 points on 46% shooting, 2.2 steals, 10.2 assists, and 4.5 rebounds. He has made his case in recent weeks to start in the all-star game, and the Knicks will have their hands full trying to guard Wall tonight.
Much like the Knicks did last night, the Knicks will have to dominate on the boards. Failing to rebound against the Wizards means that Wall will be able to get out on the fast break, and there are few players, if any, more lethal in the open court.
Luckily, the Knicks rank 5th in rebounding, while the Wizards rank 26th. In their last matchup, the Wizards out-rebounded the Knicks, 37-36. If the Knicks can flip the script, they’ll put themselves in prime position to win this game.
Wall is incredible on the fast-break, and finishing around the basket. His mid-range game is getting better, and he shoots 32.1% from beyond the arc. The Knicks game plan should be to give Wall space to shoot from the outside, and live with the results.
Hornacek’s plan last night was to defend the role players and allow Isaiah Thomas to get his points. Thomas finished with 39 points, but the rest of his teammates were cold, leading to a disappointing fourth quarter for the Celtics.
Wall is a perennial all-star and will get his points. However, if they can limit his assist-making abilities in the open court, it will put pressure on his teammates to create shots on their own.
The Knicks had 27 assists last night against the Celtics. Ball movement is contagious, and guys are much more willing to defend when they know they will get the ball on offense.
Any team that can muster up more than 20 assists in a game will put themselves in a position to win plenty of basketball games. The Golden State Warriors average over 30 assists a game (five more than any other team) this season, a big reason for their 36-6 start.
The Wizards are in the top-10 in assists, averaging 23.1. The Knicks, on the other hand, are 18th with 21.8. Hopefully the Knicks victory last night will motivate them to focus on ball movement.
On paper, the Knicks have a talented bench. Last night, they proved it on the court, as the bench contributed 55 points. If the Knicks are without Porzingis and Noah, they will need another stellar performance from their role players.
The Knicks bench ranks 19th in the NBA, averaging 33.2 points. The Wizards bench ranks 29th, averaging 23.6 points.
The difference in the game tonight will be the difference in bench play. Given the Knicks game last night, the Knicks bench is in line for another big night at MSG.
I went against the Knicks last night in Boston because of their recent struggles, both on and off the court. However, after last night’s performance, I feel a little better about picking the Knicks.
They showed consistency on defense, a willingness to move the ball, and production from several members of their bench. Hornacek’s lineup changes seem to be clicking, and his team is responding with winning basketball.
Tonight, we’ll see if last night’s game was a fluke, or the resurgence of the New York Knicks.
The Knicks are at home, where they are a significantly better team on both ends of the floor. However, the Wizards are playing great basketball, and this game will come down to the wire.
This time, the Knicks close out a close game down the stretch, and get their 20th win of the season.
X Factor: Jennings. In their last matchup, Jennings had 17 points, 11 assists, five rebounds, one steal and a +/- of 19 in 24 minutes of play. Look for him to energize that second unit.
Anthony and Rose combine for 50 points and the bench chips in with 40 points.