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 guard Victor Oladipo (4) shoots the ball while New York Knicks guard Elfrid Payton (6) defends in the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Knicks lose rebounding gamble vs Indiana

In their first game in nine months, the Knicks grabbed a total of five offensive rebounds for a paltry 10.2% offensive rebound rate. Guess how many times the Knicks had an offensive rebounding rate that low in their 66 games last season. Zero. For context, the worst offensive rebounding team in the league last year still snared 23.3% of their misses.

There were repercussions. When the Knicks gambled and came up empty on the boards, the Pacers came for New York’s kneecaps by rebounding, pushing and scoring before the Knicks could get back.

Per Cleaning The Glass, only 72.9% of the Pacers offensive possessions came in the half court against a set defense, a number that would’ve ranked lowest in the league last year.

They finished with 30 fast-break points compared to the Knicks’ eleven—a 19-point margin in a game lost by 14. Granted, many of those fast-break points were the result of pick-six style turnovers that led to uncontested dunks for Indiana. But, as you’ll see, several fast break points also came from simply not getting back on defense.

Most teams prefer to run back on defense, prevent easy transition buckets, and live to fight another day. That’s partly why we love it. We know the inherent risk of putting your chips on the table and chasing after missed shots. When it works, fans celebrate the audacity, the aggressiveness, the strength and ferocity of those boards.

Bruising offensive rebounders almost feel out of place in today’s game and harken back to those idealized 90s Knicks teams. Even the term “second-chance points” feels hopelessly romantic.

Let’s dive into the film to see exactly what happened.