Knicks: How rebounding cost NY their season opener in Indiana

Nerlens Noel, Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Nerlens Noel, Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dec 23, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner (33) rebounds the ball over New York Knicks center Nerlens Noel (3) in the fourth quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

How one of the New York Knicks’ greatest strengths became a weakness in Indiana on opening night.

One of the lone bright spots of last season was the New York Knicks’ ability to attack the offensive glass and secure second chance opportunities.

Their offensive rebound rate of 30% ranked first in the entire league in 2019-20. Not surprisingly, those offensive boards led to second chance points, another category in which the Knicks led the NBA last season.

The engines behind the Knicks’ offensive rebounding machine were Julius Randle (who was seventh in the league in total second chance points last year) and Mitchell Robinson (ninth), who is among the best offensive rebounders in the game when he can stay on the floor.

Committing to offensive rebounding is a major gamble and through four preseason games, the Knicks appeared to be ready to double down on that risk as they remained in the top five in offensive rebound rate. This is clearly an area where New York could look to impose their size, strength and athleticism to punish teams, particularly those who play small.

Wednesday’s season opener against the Indiana Pacers was a prime example of what happens when the Knicks go all-in on offensive rebounding, but lose the bet.

Let’s track how rebounding cost the Knicks their first game.