The New York Knicks will go back on the road to play the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday, November 1. What must New York do to secure a victory?
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Mar 5, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) looks to pass defended by Detroit Pistons forward Marcus Morris (13) during the second half at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks defeated the Pistons 102-89. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Knicks are in the midst of a process that few could possibly envy. Though the 2016 NBA offseason was more rewarding than most expected it to be, developing chemistry is a task that requires time, patience, and experience.
The Knicks are currently two regular season games into that process, which makes the third outing of the year one worth discussing.
The Knicks will travel to play the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Tuesday, November 1. New York enters the game at 1-1 following a 117-89 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers and a 111-104 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Detroit Pistons will enter Tuesday’s encounter at 2-1 after losing to the Toronto Raptors and securing wins over the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic.
With Jeff Hornacek in his first year as head coach of the Knicks, one of the primary goals should be to win on the road. After losing to the Cavaliers in Cleveland by 28 points, this clash with the Pistons will provide New York with an opportunity to achieve redemption.
The question is: what must New York do in order to secure a road victory over the Pistons in Detroit?
Feb 27, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) takes a shot against Milwaukee Bucks center Miles Plumlee (18) in the first quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
5. Defend The Pick & Roll
The Detroit Pistons have one of the best pick and roll duos in the NBA in point guard Reggie Jackson and center Andre Drummond. Fortunately for the New York Knicks, Jackson isn’t expected to be active on Tuesday, November 1.
The bad news for the Knicks is that both Ish Smith and Beno Udrih have managed to use the pick and roll to their advantage through three games.
Smith finished the 2015-16 regular season with career-best averages of 12.6 points, 6.5 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.1 steals in 77 games played. He’s averaging 11.0 points and 7.3 assists through three appearances in 2016-17.
Though they’re not exactly household names, Smith has the recent track record to prove his proficiency as a facilitator and Udrih is an established veteran.
With Drummond on the dive, the Pistons are destined to succeed in running the pick and roll on a fair number of possessions. The key for Joakim Noah, Kristaps Porzingis, and the Knicks will be to limit the efficiency with which Detroit runs the play.
Containing the pick and roll would go a long way towards successfully containing a depleted Pistons offense.
Oct 25, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Knicks guard Brandon Jennings (3) shoots in the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Cleveland won 117-88. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
4. Establish The 3-Point Shot
Though the New York Knicks were blown out by the Cleveland Cavaliers, it was encouraging to see Jeff Hornacek’s crew convert nine 3-point field goals. Though the Knicks defeated the Grizzlies 111-104, it was disappointing to see New York regress with just six 3-point field goals made.
The first two results may not have depended on 3-point shooting, but New York needs to improve upon its current mark of 15-of-48—31.3 percent—from 3-point range.
New York may have scored 111 points against Memphis, but it’s hard to accept six 3-point field goals made. It attempted 21, which is a solid number, but there are too many good shooters for the Knicks to limit their shot attempts.
Between Carmelo Anthony, Justin Holiday, Brandon Jennings, Courtney Lee, Kristaps Porzingis, and Lance Thomas, the Knicks have six legitimate 3-point shooters.
Against a Pistons team that loves to shoot the 3-ball, the Knicks must be able to convert without forcing the issue. Shooting in rhythm is something that all six of those players excel at doing, which means Jennings and Derrick Rose must find the open man.
If the Knicks’ defense is unable to rise to the occasion, then their shooters must step up and save the game.
Oct 17, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (5) celebrates a three point basket during the third quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
3. Defend The 3-Point Shot
Teams coached by Stan Van Gundy are all but guaranteed to excel in two areas. One of the manners in which a Van Gundy team is expected to execute is on defense, where energy and physicality are a given.
The other guarantee with a Van Gundy team is that they’ll space the floor by embracing the value of the 3-point shot.
Detroit has been struggling with the outside shot in 2016-17, which is a promising sign for New York. It’s No. 27 in the Association in 3-point field goals made per game, but that isn’t a number to put much stock into.
Detroit was No. 10 in the NBA in 3-point field goals made per game in 2015-16 and the personnel is in place for it to turn things around against New York.
The Pistons have shot 26.2 percent from beyond the arc through three games, which simply will not last. Playing without Reggie Jackson hurts, but there’s still room for Detroit to improve without him.
Jackson’s absence makes things easier defensively, but New York cannot afford to play lazy defense against the 3-ball when Detroit is the opponent.
Mar 5, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) looks to pass defended by Detroit Pistons forward Tobias Harris (34) during the second half at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks defeated the Pistons 102-89. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
2. The Forwards
Though it’s only been three games, Tobias Harris has begun to justify the investment made by the Detroit Pistons. Marcus Morris won fans during the 2016 NBA Playoffs, when he fearlessly contributed against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis are still in the process of settling in with their new New York Knicks teammates, but they won’t have the luxury of being forgiven for any struggles.
Through three games, Harris is averaging 18.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.7 3-point field goals made in 31.7 minutes. He scored 22 points against DeMarre Carroll and the Toronto Raptors, and tallied 18 in 27 minutes against Aaron Gordon and the Orlando Magic.
Morris scored 17 points in each of his first two appearances and is becoming one of the better shooters at his position.
Anthony and Porzingis are the better players, but this isn’t a game to take lightly. It’s too early to be concerned, but the Knicks would certainly benefit from securing a road win over a postseason-caliber team this early in the season.
It’s on Anthony and Porzingis to step up and lead the Knicks to their first road win of the 2016-17 NBA regular season.
Dec 29, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) prepares to shoot the ball as New York Knicks power forward Kyle O’Quinn (9) defends during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
1. Contain Andre Drummond
The Detroit Pistons are led by one of the most dominant young players in the NBA: Andre Drummond. Drummond broke out in 2015-16 by leading the league in rebounding and making both the All-Star Game and the All-NBA Third Team.
If the Knicks are going to defeat the Pistons on Tuesday, November 1, containing Drummond should be the top priority.
Drummond is fresh off of dominating the Milwaukee Bucks with 20 points, 23 rebounds, eight offensive boards, three blocks, and two steals. Dating back to last season, it was his 68th double-double and sixth 20-20 game in his past 84 appearances.
The question is: can the likes of Willy Hernangomez, Joakim Noah, Kyle O’Quinn, and Kristaps Porzingis hold Drummond in check on November 1?
Drummond finished the 2015-16 NBA regular season with averages of 16.2 points, 14.8 rebounds, 4.9 offensive boards, 1.5 steals, and 1.4 blocks. He’s more than just an athlete who can rebound, however, as his post game is dramatically improving every season.
Tough as Drummond may be, the Knicks are playing a postseason-caliber team that’s down its leading scorer from the 2015-16 regular season.