The New York Knicks will look to secure the 20th win of the season tonight against the Indiana Pacers. What can you expect from this rivalry game?
There is no easy way to put this, but the Knicks have been nothing short of dreadful in January. On Saturday, the Knicks showed yet again that they can compete for the better part of 45 minutes.
The last three minutes, however, have not been very kind.
In the first two months of the season, the Knicks went 14-10 and were the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. While they had their troubles on the road, the Knicks were a dominant home team with a record of 11-5.
Since then, they’ve crumbled under pressure.
To say that January has been disappointing would be a massive understatement. It’s not just about losing games, but the way in which the Knicks are losing these games.
Four of the past five Knicks games were losses by three points or less.
As optimists, we can believe that the Knicks could have easily executed better down the stretch and emerged victorious. As pessimists, we can’t help but notice that these losses are beginning to have a negative psychological effect on the players.
In the final three minutes of games, the Knicks have been horrid. At this point in the game, the Knicks are playing not-to-lose instead of playing to win. “How can we manage to not blow yet another game in the final minutes?”
This mentality leads to thinking instead of reacting. The pick-and-roll plays that get the Knicks back into games late in the fourth quarter suddenly disappears, and isolation basketball takes over.
It’s gotten so bad at the end of games that even Knicks announcer Clyde Frazier is predicting losses before they happen.
What makes this situation even worse is the 3-point field goal that was made against Derrick Rose—the same player who publicly asked head coach Jeff Hornacek to push the team harder on the defensive end.
Since his conversation with Hornacek, Rose has allowed two game winning 3-point field goals to Dennis Schröder and Devin Booker in the same calendar week.
Why is Rose not closer to Booker? Last time I checked, Tyson Chandler wasn’t a threat to score from anywhere outside of 10-feet from the basket.
With the game on the line, Carmelo Anthony resorted to hero-ball again.
In his defense, the shot was halfway down. However, given the way the Knicks’ games have gone in recent weeks, it’s makes sense that it didn’t fall.
So, here we are, a few hours before the Knicks take on the Pacers in Indiana, looking to snap their two game losing streak and get their 20th win of the season.
The Pacers are 6-3 in their past nine games in January, with an overall record of 22-21, good for seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
These teams have played two times already this season and both teams won on their home court. The Knicks won the first matchup, 118-111, and the Pacers won the second, 123-109.
With most teams, being at full health is nothing but a positive. On the Knicks, being at full health means questions about the starting lineup.
While Hornacek was temporarily considering this plan, it seems like he’ll go with his original starting lineup instead.
The Knicks have already defeated the Pacers this season and know exactly what it takes to do so.
Despite these tough losses, the Knicks have proven to be competitive. Eventually, that competitiveness has to turn into victories—right?
Now, the negatives.
The Knicks are back to full health, which means a fluctuation in minutes and rotations. Hernangomez, Plumelee, and Baker will likely take the brunt of the minutes reduction, all of which have played solid minutes for the Knicks in recent games.
The Knicks have also lost to the Pacers this season. Unfortunately for the Knicks, that loss came in Indiana, where tonight’s game is also being played.
While the Knicks have been competitive in recent games, it doesn’t make up for the lack of execution in the key moments of the game. If it comes down to the wire tonight, is anyone confident that the Knicks can close out this game on the road?
The New York Knicks fight for a majority of the game, but let it get away in the fourth quarter.
Pacers win, 115-107, and take a 2-1 series lead.