The New York Knicks are playing the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, November 1. Here’s how New York can extend its winning streak to four.
After initially starting the season with an awful 0-3 record, the New York Knicks have bounced back with a three-game winning streak. New York slugged through the Brooklyn Nets in a battle of the boroughs, LeBron James and his veteran Cleveland Cavaliers, and a Denver Nuggets squad with an explosive offense and a deep bench.
The Knicks have shown some great potential offensively and, more importantly, defensively. That’s something New Yorkers haven’t seen in a long time.
Over the past three games, the Knicks held the Nets, Cavs, and Nuggets to an average of 97.0 points per game, which ranks No. 6 in the NBA during that time.
The Knicks have a good pace offensively thanks to the consistency of veteran Jarret Jack starting at the point. He moves the ball well in the new offense that’s centered around Kristaps Porzingis.
Jack’s hard work has been showing, as the pass-first point guard had a season-high 10 assists against the Nuggets.
Credit is also due to the absolute dominance on the boards by New York’s active centers: Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn. Along with Porzingis and even Courtney Lee, the centers have propelled the Knicks to fourth in the league with 12.5 offensive rebounds per game.
The Knicks’ next game is going to be a real test for Porzingis and the Knicks, however, as they’re facing James Harden and the Houston Rockets.
Even with the team playing better on defense, they’re going to have their hands full against the Rockets. Houston suffered tough losses in its past two games, falling 103-89 to the Memphis Grizzlies and 115-107 to the Philadelphia 76ers.
The obvious problem for the Knicks’ defense is James Harden, the explosive offensive Swiss army knife who’s averaging 26.0 points & 9.3 assists per game so far this season.
New York already knows what kind of offensive threat Harden is. He scored 53 points, grabbed 16 rebounds, and dished out 17 assists on New Year’s Eve in 2016, when the Rockets defeated the Knicks 129-122 at the Toyota Center.
The Knicks also have to worry about Houston’s obsession with the three-point shot. They lead the league in three-pointers made with 13.5 per game. That, of course, is a result of the Rockets chucking up an average of 44.0 three-point field goals per game.
That’s 10.6 more than any other team in the NBA.
In order to counter that barrage of threes, the Knicks are going to need their perimeter to step up defensively and anticipate Houston’s attempts.
The real reason that Houston’s three-point shooting is a threat is that the Knicks—even Kristaps Porzingis—are inconsistent in the third quarter. The Knicks don’t have a deep bench compared to other teams in the NBA.
It’s been evident in most of their games when they blow 20-point leads by making simple mistakes on both ends of the floor.
On the plus side, New York’s big men, Kanter and O’Quinn, are offensive threats down low, and have been dominating the boards to produce much-needed second chance buckets.
If you combine that with Porzingis averaging 29.3 points per game—third in the NBA—and keep your fingers crossed that Tim Hardaway Jr. finds his shot, then the Knicks have a chance to upset the Western Conference powerhouse.
Thankfully, Hardaway finished Sunday’s game against the Cavs with 34 points and eight assists, shooting 57.9 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc.
The Knicks have good momentum going into Wednesday’s game. They finished the game against Denver with 10 blocks and eight steals, two of which were recorded by promising rookie Frank Ntilikina.
Porzingis had an amazing performance, scoring a career-high 38 points, along with seven rebounds and three blocks. Off the bench, O’Quinn scored 15 points, and added 12 rebounds and five blocks in just 21 minutes.
The New York Knicks have been playing with grit and a solid pace. If they keep it up, they could walk out of Madison Square Garden with a four-game winning streak.