Knicks (1-6) vs. Pistons (3-5) Preview

Picture taken by Mary Altaffer, Associated Press, image from The Detroit News

The New York Knicks (1-6) will be taking on the Detroit Pistons (3-5) at 7:00pm Eastern Time in Detroit. The Pistons are listed as 4.5 point favorites despite being without Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, and Reggie Jackson.

Starting Lineups- With 2 Attributes That Will Be Impactful Tonight (Strength, Weakness)

PositionNew York KnicksDetroit Pistons
PGFrank Ntilikina (perimeter defense, scoring) Bruce Brown (defense, turnovers/shooting)
SGRJ Barrett (scoring at the rim, free throw shooting)Luke Kennard (shooting, physicality on defense)
SFMarcus Morris Sr. (3 point shooting, fouling)Tony Snell (three point shooting, rebounding)
PFJulius Randle (rebounding, turnovers)Markieff Morris (scoring, turnovers)
CMitchell Robinson (interior defense, fouling)Andre Drummond (rebounding, fouling)

Matchup Of The Night

Mitchell Robinson vs. Andre Drummond

In four of Mitchell Robinson’s six games played he has racked in 4 or more fouls, with the highest amount of minutes him playing in any of those games only being 24 and a half minutes. Robinson is drawing a really tough matchup tonight, going against the league’s top rebounder Andre Drummond. Drummond is a beast on the boards, but also scores over 21 points a game, shooting a fantastic 56% from the floor. Robinson will need to stay out of foul trouble and stick with Drummond at all times tonight (boxing out, hedging and getting back on pick and rolls, and not leaving him to block shots/double team). Andre Drummond will obviously be the forefront of this Pistons decimated offense. It would be a major bonus if Mitch could get Drummond into foul trouble on the other end, but that is unlikely since Mitch doesn’t usually post up or drive on offense (scoring most of his points on put backs and lobs). Drummond is averaging over 4 fouls a game though and other Knicks driving to the basket can possibly dupe him into fouling. Drummond is also averaging 4 turnovers per game which I would expect the Knicks to try and take advantage of with double teams in the post.

Inactives

Knicks- Elfrid Payton and Dennis Smith Jr.

Pistons- Reggie Jackson, Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, and Tim Frazier.

Key Statistics

  1. The Pistons are 25th in the NBA in defensive rating, allowing on average 110.9 points per 100 possessions. The Knicks are currently 21st  with a defensive rating of 108.9. Both teams should have lots of opportunities to score tonight, although it likely will be from three point land as the Knicks are 18th in the NBA and the Pistons are 20th in opposing teams’ three point percentage. The Pistons are also 26th in the NBA in opposing field goal percentage allowing teams to shoot 47.7% from the field.
  2. You would think the Pistons own the boards with Andre Drummond leading the league in defensive rebounds with 14.4 per game, offensive rebounds with 5.0 per game, and obviously total rebounds with 19.4 per game. Interestingly enough though, the Pistons are 26th in the NBA in defensive rebounds (33.4) and 18th in the NBA in defensive rebound percentage (72.8, meaning they grab 72.8% of the defensive rebounds they have a chance at acquiring). Going along with these numbers, Detroit is 18th in the NBA giving up 13.6 points per game on 2nd chance points. This should be very useful for the Knicks who lead the NBA averaging 12.9 offensive rebounds per game and 17.3 2nd chance points per game!
  3. Detroit is 22nd and the Knicks are 26th in pace coming into this game. I would expect a low scoring, gritty, grudge match with lots of fouls in this one. Another statistic that would prove this to be likely is that the Pistons are 17th in the NBA in offensive rating and the Knicks are 28th! Keep in mind the Pistons will be without their 2nd and 3rd best players Blake Griffin (6 time All-Star) and Derrick Rose who is averaging just over 20 points and 6 assists per game this year. The Pistons are also 28th in the NBA in fast break points. The Pistons are currently 6th in the NBA in personal fouls per game, while the Knicks are averaging 24 fouls per game (22nd in the NBA). The Pistons and Knicks are both in the top half of the league (11th and 12th) in drawing fouls per game. Thus a slow, poor shooting night, including lots of stops at the charity stripe, seems likely.
  4. The Knicks need to incorporate the pick and roll more into their offense. The Knicks currently are ranked in the bottom third of the league in pick and roll usage rate, meanwhile they have a big team that has thrived in the past on it. Last season the scoring frequency when they rolled as a big man were the following for Mitchell Robinson, Julius Randle, and Bobby Portis Jr. (the Knicks top 3 big men). Robinson scored 73.6% of the time, Julius Randle 66.3% of the time and, and Bobby Portis Jr. 41.9% of the time on their opportunities to score on the pick and roll. Trier, Ntilikina, Barrett, and Morris Sr. are all good ball handlers on the pick and roll and they should be utilized to help the Knicks with their scoring woes.

Keys To Winning

  1. Containing Drummond (Mitch can’t get into foul trouble, the Knicks should look to double Drummond in the post)
  2. Contesting Kennard (one of the top 3 point shooters in the league, the Knicks can’t leave him open and must account for him at all times)
  3. Owning The Boards (New York has to keep getting 2nd chance points on offense and not allow for Drummond to get easy put backs)
  4. Free Throw Shooting (the Knicks are currently last in the NBA, shooting free throws at an abysmal 66.8%)
  5. Winning The Battle Of The Benches (The Pistons are without Griffin, Rose, Jackson, and Frazier. They will severely lack depth. If the Knicks can put the Pistons in foul trouble or push the pace a little to tire them out, the more of Detroit’s dwindling bench will have to play, helping the Knicks)

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