The New York Knicks will travel to face the Miami Heat. A look at the three players to watch during this Eastern Conference matchup.
On Friday night, the New York Knicks will head to South Beach to face the Miami Heat. This is a single-game road trip, before a return to Madison Square Garden that precedes the holidays.
The Knicks will try to make it four wins in their last five games, something that was unheard of earlier this season and all of last year. They have momentum, and the team has played better under interim coach Mike Miller. However, who will they face off with against the Heat?
This year’s out-of-nowhere rookie, Kendrick Nunn burst onto the scene with the Heat from the start of the regular season. His 24, 18 and 25 points in the first three games, respectively, solidified his spot in the rotation. Not only that, but he hasn’t left the starting lineup, which has pushed mainstays like Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow to the bench.
Nunn can do damage from anywhere on the court, and with point guard size, the New York Knicks will likely have their rotating group of point guards on him. He also just scored 26 points against the Philadelphia 76ers in a winning effort. The talent is there, and he is one of a few reasons for the Heat’s surprise start.
Hassan Whiteside‘s time in Miami was over long before the trade, but freeing up his minutes opened an opportunity for Bam Adebayo, who has broken out in his third season and owns an early case for the NBA Most Improved Player award.
17 of Adebayo’s 28 appearances have gone for double-doubles, leading to a stat line of 15.5 points and 10.6 rebounds. He impacts the game beyond that as a passing big man, with 4.6 assists per game, and 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks at the defensive end.
For whichever Knick handles him in the frontcourt, if it’s Taj Gibson or Mitchell Robinson, this is a difficult matchup. Adebayo is a presence at ends side of the court and someone who could wreak havoc on the Knicks from the opening tip.
A player who almost exclusively shoots 3-pointers, Duncan Robinson takes 7.1 of his 8.4 shot attempts per game from behind the arc. To do that, a player must be elite at making these shots, and Robinson has proven just that, averaging 44.2 percent on 3-pointers. By also making 64.9 percent of his rare 2-point attempts, he shoots 47.5 percent per game.
The Knicks have been prone to leaving the arc wide open, potentially making this a night for Robinson to feast if it happens again. He has at least three 3-pointers in each of his last six games, including 10 against the Atlanta Hawks earlier this month.
If the New York Knicks can contain Robinson, perhaps this game plays out smoother, but there’s a reason why this team is second in the NBA in 3-point shooting.