After two grueling losses in their last two games, the New York Knicks seemingly get a one-game reprieve on Tuesday night against the Detroit Pistons before beginning another rough stretch.
The Pistons come into Tuesday night’s action with the worst record in the NBA at 5-17. The Knicks have been able to handle them at home twice this year, beating them 130-106 in the second game of the season and 121-112 back in early November. So this could, and should, be a soft landing for a Knicks team that is in desperate need of one.
On Friday night, New York gave up 132 points to a Portland team without Damian Lillard and lost 132-129 in overtime. Then, just two days later, New York erased a double-digit fourth-quarter lead just to come up short in a 127-123 loss to the Grizzlies.
In addition to both games being gut-punch losses, the two games also continued to highlight the major defensive issues for the Knicks. They rank 26th in the NBA in points allowed per game with 116.9 (Detroit is just one spot better), and also rank 29th in three-point makes per game and dead last in three-pointers attempted per game as teams look to take advantage of New York’s poor rotations and soft perimeter defense.
Part of the reason New York has had success against Detroit is that the Pistons take the 10th-fewest threes per game in the NBA and rank 24th in three-point field goal percentage at 33.2%.
Of course, the Knicks are also dead last in that category at just 31.6% from beyond the arc.
Not many things have gone well for New York to start this year, and the pressure to move on from head coach Tom Thibodeau and power forward Julius Randle grows every day. That pressure will only intensify over the next eight days when the Knicks have to play the Bucks, Mavericks, Cavaliers, and Hawks.
But for one day, the task at hand should be achievable. On Tuesday, the Knicks simply need a win over the worst team in the NBA. Surely, even they can’t botch that assignment.