New York Knicks Preview: Keys To Defeating Detroit Pistons

The New York Knicks will have an opportunity for revenge on Wednesday, November 16. How can the Knicks defeat the Detroit Pistons?


Nov 1, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) drives to the basket as Detroit Pistons guard Ish Smith (14) and guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (5) defend during the first quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks completed the first 10 games of the 2016-17 NBA regular season with a record that can be worked with. For all of the flaws that were placed on display, New York fell just one win short of a .500 record at 4-6.

New York will have a chance to defeat one of the teams it lost to when it hosts the Detroit Pistons at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, November 16.

New York and Detroit met on Tuesday, November 1, but the result wasn’t in the Knicks’ favor. The Pistons pulled out a 102-89 victory after the Knicks went cold and scored a grand total of 34 points in the second half.

That includes a 10-point fourth quarter that left fans around New York pondering whether or not the Knicks played with a concerted effort.

Seven games later, the Knicks will look to achieve a measure of revenge at Madison Square Garden. Detroit is still without starting point guard Reggie Jackson. Starting center Andre Drummond is hobbled by an ankle injury.

The question is: what must New York do to defeat the shorthanded Pistons in front of the home crowd?

Nov 1, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; New York Knicks guard Brandon Jennings (3) drives to the basket as Detroit Pistons guard Beno Udrih (19) defends during the second quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

5. Ball Movement

The New York Knicks had a somewhat acceptable 18 assists during the 102-89 loss to the Detroit Pistons on November 1. Starting center Joakim Noah had eight of those dimes, however, and point guards Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings combined for five.

Noah is a gifted passer who should continue to facilitate the offense from the high post, but Rose and Jennings must do a significantly better job the second time around.

New York is currently 3-0 when it eclipses 20 assists and 1-6 when it fails to reach that plateau. The one exception was a 93-77 victory over the Dallas Mavericks—the first and only game during which New York held an opponent below 100 points this season.

It’s also worth noting that 13 of the Knicks’ 18 assists came during the second half, when New York scored 57 of its 93 points.

As is the case with virtually every team, the Knicks are better when the ball is moving and isolation possessions are scarce. There are a number of phenomenal passers on the roster who simply need to tap into their court vision.

If the Knicks commit to playing team basketball and keep the ball in constant motion against a rugged defensive team like Detroit, victory will be attainable.

Nov 1, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Marcus Morris (13) drives to the basket as New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) defends during the third quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

4. The Forwards

With all due respect to the opposition, it made no sense how thoroughly outplayed Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis were by Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris. Morris took Anthony to task and Harris was unstoppable.

In a game where Andre Drummond scored just nine points on 4-of-13 shooting from the field, the New York Knicks’ best players were dominated by their matchups.

Harris recorded 25 points and 10 rebounds on 8-of-12 shooting from the field—with a protective mask—and Morris tallied 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Both capitalized on weak closeouts by players who dared them to shoot.

Anthony and Porzingis combined for 42 points of their own, but the damage was done on the defensive end of the floor.

Regardless of how many points Anthony and Porzingis produce, their defensive intensity must improve. Offense will clearly matter, but Anthony and Porzingis allowed 47 points between two players who combine to average 31.5.

It’d be inexcusable for the Knicks’ Top 2 players to be outplayed by Harris and Morris again. It’d also lead to defeat.

Nov 1, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Ish Smith (14) lays up the basketball as New York Knicks forward Lance Thomas (42) and center Joakim Noah (13) defend during the first quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

3. Defense

The New York Knicks’ most recent game was the first time this season that Jeff Hornacek’s crew held an opponent below 100 points. It was a long-awaited arrival of a defense that has the personnel to border on dominance in 2016-17.

If the Knicks are hoping to defeat the Detroit Pistons in their second meeting of 2016-17, then the defense must show up again.

New York held the Dallas Mavericks to 77 points on 5-of-28 shooting from beyond the arc and just 11 free throw attempts. It was a rare display of Kristaps Porzingis and the Knicks showing discipline and not getting into foul trouble.

That alone could define the matchup against Detroit, as the Knicks sent the Pistons to the line for 21 free throw attempts the first time around.

Detroit only attempted 13 3-point field goals during the first meeting, but converted eight against New York’s lackadaisical closeouts. Expect Stan Van Gundy to value the shot to a greater degree this time around.

If New York can stay out of foul trouble and limit the Pistons’ effectiveness from beyond the arc, the defense could show out again.

Nov 1, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose (25) goes to the basket against Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) and guard Ish Smith (14) during the first quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

2. Attack The Paint

Whether or not Andre Drummond plays, the New York Knicks must attack the rim and exploit this opportunity to create efficient offense. As previously noted, Drummond is hobbled by an ankle injury that prevented him from practicing on Tuesday, November 16.

Whether Drummond is active and hobbled or Aron Baynes becomes the starting center, the Knicks will have an opportunity to consistently drive and finish.

Derrick Rose has done an outstanding job of attacking the basket, albeit with the troubling reality that he hasn’t been given the benefit of the whistle. That could change against Detroit, as his quickness could be the key to getting Drummond and Baynes into foul trouble.

If the Knicks were to succeed in doing so, they’d open the floor for a successful pick and roll attack, as well as effective post-ups by Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis.

The primary benefit of driving against an injured Drummond or Baynes would be the damage it’d do to Detroit’s rebounding attack. New York allowed Detroit to accumulate 10 offensive rebounds and 50 points in the paint during their first meeting of 2016-17.

After attempting just 15 free throws during the first meeting with the Pistons, New York will need to get to the line on a more consistent basis this time around.

Nov 1, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) during the first quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

1. Fourth Quarter Execution

In 2015-16, the New York Knicks often looked like a postseason-caliber team through three quarters. The fourth quarter posed problems, however, as New York consistently collapsed and crumbled under pressure.

The 2016-17 season has told a similar story about the Knicks, with no game better exemplifying the fourth quarter woes than the previous matchup with the Detroit Pistons.

As previously alluded to, the Knicks scored just 34 points in the second-half of the 102-89 loss to Detroit. That includes a dreadful 10 points during the fourth quarter, which would be unacceptable against any caliber of opponent.

Carmelo Anthony has made his name as one of the best closers in the NBA, which makes the Detroit game the perfect opportunity for him to reclaim that status.

New York scored 26 points during the fourth quarter against Dallas, which is a solid number to aim for. The number itself isn’t entirely relevant, of course, but New York must not fall into isolation tendencies during the fourth quarter.

Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, and Derrick Rose can all take over in isolation, but ball movement against a tired defense is far more efficient.

Fourth quarter execution will be the key to the Knicks securing victory No. 5.

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