At some point the Knicks’ had to lose a game. That moment came Saturday night against a big, tough Memphis Grizzlies team that the Knicks just don’t match up well with and couldn’t find a way to stop.
The Knicks, previously the lone undefeated team in the NBA, stand at 6-1, returning home and looking to return to their winning ways when they take on the Indiana Pacers today at 12.
For the Knicks, however, a split of two games on the road against two of the best teams in the Western Conference is not a result to be ashamed of. Given their early success, of course the team and fans wanted to take both games, but realistically, going 1-1 was a very good result to a tough test.
In those two games, a noticeable trend was a slight let-up on defense. In their first five games, the Knicks had not given up more than 94 points to any of their opponents. On the previous mini road trip, they gave up 100 points to the San Antonio Spurs and 105 to the Grizzlies. Surprisingly, by the numbers, their task gets easier today.
The Pacers have crawled out to a 4-6 start. Their offense has been mediocre, averaging just 92 points per 100 possessions – 29th in the league in offensive efficiency. Their offensive struggles stem from their poor shooting. On the season the Pacers are shooting at just a 39% clip from the field and 29% from beyond the arc. Danny Granger’s absence with a knee problem, along with their lack of a true point guard – Darren Collinson was shipped to Dallas, so George Hill now starts for him – have put a heavier scoring load on players that don’t seem capable of handling it.
Their defense has remained tight, though, allowing 97 points per 100 possessions, good for 7th best in the league. The Pacers are coming off of a win over the Dallas Mavericks in which they allowed just 83 points. Will their D be good enough to stop the Knicks’ offense, which is first in the NBA in offensive efficiency?
There will be intriguing matchups all across the floor worth watching. Raymond Felton and Hill should be a good test of two speedy, feisty guards. Jason Kidd will take the assignment of Paul George, but later J.R. Smith will see lots of action against him. Carmelo Anthony will likely remain at the power forward, which will match him up with the much bigger, but slower David West. And at center, Tyson Chandler will take on Roy Hibbert, who has also gotten off to a sluggish start.
Overall, coming back home to play a struggling team without their best player should be a good time for the Knicks to begin their next win streak.