Battling the injury bug, the Knicks will look to move their preseason record to 2-0 tonight at the Garden as they face the Pacers.
The New York Knicks, albeit in a preseason game, looked incredibly impressive in Tuesday’s blowout victory over the Detroit Pistons and they look to build on that tonight against the Indiana Pacers, who also won their first game in convincing fashion )a 122-97 drubbing of the Charlotte Hornets). Even though Indiana largely struggled last season and is not expected to make too much noise this season with regard to the playoffs, New York lost two out of four games against the Pacers last season, with both losses coming by double-digits.
Indiana’s “big three” of Tyrese Haliburton, Myles Turner and Buddy Hield struggled in their first contest, shooting a combined 8-24 and putting up 24 points total, per ESPN Stats. Indiana was bailed out by rookie first-rounder Bennedict Mathurin and newly acquired Aaron Nesmith, who combined for 31 points.
With perimeter defensive wiz Quentin Grimes out with a foot injury, the Pacer’s young, talented guards look to feast on the perimeter. Look for Deuce McBride to get some more burn this evening, as he looks to cement his place in Thibs’ rotation. McBride, the often-forgotten young Knick, was awesome in the first preseason game, logging six steals in 23 minutes of action, per ESPN Stats. McBride is not as tall as Haliburton (6-foot-6) and Hield (6-foot-4), so don’t expect a lot of swats into the first row of MSG. Look for Deuce to use his stocky frame and quick hands to get into passing lanes as well as knock the Pacers’ guards off of their spots.
If Deuce can continue to improve offensively and show the ability to distribute (like he does below) and score at a decent clip, he should earn minutes at the point to complement Jalen Brunson and Immanuel Quickley, who lack the defensive prowess of McBride.
Deuce to Obi!! pic.twitter.com/9GUXPph8tK
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) October 4, 2022
Coming off of a disappointing ’21-’22 campaign, the spotlight is on Julius Randle to perform well and revert back to the Randle that Knicks fans fell in love with a couple of years back. Questions remain if he can coexist with Brunson and if he can adjust his attitude and style of play to truly be an integral part of the success of the team.
On Tuesday, Randle put up decent numbers in the box score but frequently settled for jumpers and didn’t try on many occasions to get to the goal. Randle’s tendency to settle and take ill-advised shots is one of the few frustrating aspects of his game that we saw rear its ugly head last year. Tonight, against shot-blocking king Myles Turner, it will be important for Randle to attack the glass and at least show conviction in that area, regardless of how many times he might get blocked or what the box score looks like
I believe Randle is capable of finding his ’20-’21 All-Star form and small steps in the right direction can begin tonight against one of the best paint presences in the NBA. If Randle continues to disappoint, fans will waste no time calling for Obi Toppin to take his role.
In addition to Grimes, the Knicks could be without Cam Reddish and Jericho Sims, who are both questionable to give it a go this evening. Both of these guys are vying for spots in the rotation and any chance to prove themselves in the preseason is crucial. Sims was expected to back up Mitchell Robinson this season until the Knicks went out and acquired Isaiah Hartenstein, who at this point, is more qualified than Sims to get more playing time.
Reddish, who has been a victim of coach Thibs’ unwillingness to play the young guys an adequate amount of minutes is approaching a big year in his career, which has largely been disappointing, despite tremendous talent.
Tip-off this evening is at 7:30 PM EST.