The New York Knicks continue to play shorthanded as they travel to Indiana to face the Pacers in their second game in as many days.
After a demoralizing loss to the Orlando Magic on Sunday afternoon to close out a three-game home stand, the New York Knicks (11-11) will play the second game of a back-to-back against the Indiana Pacers on Monday night.
The only issue: Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Haradaway Jr. remain out with an ankle injury and a shin injury, respectively.
The Knicks, missing 43 points worth of production from the aforementioned sidelined players, go into this game with a shorthanded bench, having to fill two gaping holes in the starting lineup. Here are some of the keys to watch out for as the Knicks face the Pacers.
Starting Damyean Dotson
The Knicks second round pick from this year’s draft will likely get another chance to start on Monday night. Having impressed defensively, but leaving much to be desired offensively in his 22 minutes of action, Dotson now has the chance to redeem himself and attempt to be a focal point of the Knicks offense tonight that stalled finding open looks without the opponent’s defense gravitating towards Porzingis and athletic contributions of Hardaway Jr.
Getting to the line
The Knicks only managed to get to the free-throw line a grand total of ten times against the Magic at home—a number that has to change against the Pacers. Giving up 108.3 points per game, good for 22nd in the league, the Knicks need to exploit the Pacers’ defensive woes and garner an advantage from the get-go, rather than get off to the sluggish starts we are now more than accustomed to. Part of this is down to forcing the ball inside and getting Indiana in early foul trouble, something the Knicks were unable to capitalize on last night versus Orlando.
The Knicks bench, one of the strengths of the team early on this season, has struggled, having to give up Michael Beasley and Damyean Dotson to the starting lineup due to the injuries, leaving a lack of scoring off the pine. The Knicks bench shot 34.3 percent against the Magic, a large reason the Knicks were unable to win after a strong display from the starters. The Knicks will look for leadership from Kyle O’Quinn, Doug McDermott, and Frank Ntilikina to raise production from the second unit.
Michael Beasley’s scoring
In the recent two games where Kristaps Porzingis had to sit (Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic), Beasley has been a godsend, showing off his wide array of scoring abilities, pouring in 30 points on 60.9 percent shooting against the Rockets and 21 points on 52.6 percent shooting against the Magic. An efficient shooter already this season, scoring at an impressive 51.4 percent clip from field-goal range, Beasley is proving to be a solid plug-in piece when Porzingis is hurt, but given his past inconsistencies, it’s important to note he is the biggest variable for the Knicks to be competitive against the Pacers on Monday night. Hornacek’s benching of Beasley late down the stretch versus Magic is indicative of the wild play of the veteran. Although Beas’ scoring is valuable without Hardaway Jr. and Porzingis suited up, the Kansas State product has stretches on defense that occasionally prove too costly for the Knicks to stay competitive.
The Knicks will kick off their one-game road trip against the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse at 7:00 p.m. EST with MSG on the broadcast.