Changes Appear To Be Inevitable After 44 Point Loss: Knicks 88 Bucks 132 Review

photo from (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps) and star tribune

Recap

The Bucks punched the Knicks in the mouth to open up the game, securing a 33-15 lead at the end of the 1st quarter. Milwaukee never looked back, outscoring New York in all four quarters. The Knicks were hoping Dennis Smith Jr., RJ Barrett, and Kevin Knox would step up in the wake of Marcus Morris Sr. and Frank Ntilikina being out with injuries. The three young scorers did not make the most of their opportunity, combining for only 11 points on 2-25 (8%) shooting! The Knicks as a team shot a slash of 30.8% from the floor, 25.6% from three, and 66.7% from the foul line. Those are not NBA caliber numbers. New York was equally unimpressive on defense, surrendering 132 points to the Bucks who shot 55.8% from the floor and 45.7% from three. Milwaukee was led by their two juggernauts, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, who combined for 45 points on 17-24 (70.8%) shooting.

Why The Knicks Lost

It is very obvious why the Knicks lost this game, they were simply overmatched and played without an ounce of confidence all night. The only players that seemed to put up a fight were Julius Randle, Allonzo Trier, Damyean Dotson, Taj Gibson, and Mitchell Robinson. There have been few peaks and many valleys for the Knicks this season, but a 44 point loss, certainly is the lowest this team has sunk all year. All of the Knicks issues were prevalent in this one; a poorly constructed roster, subpar coaching, a lack of fight and effort, horrendous shooting, and non-existent defense. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the reigning MVP and arguably the best player in the World, but he only played 22 minutes in this game! He posted an unbelievable 29 points and 15 rebounds on 10-14 (71.4%) shooting from the floor in his limited action. Khris Middleton was also fantastic shooting 7-10, scoring 16 points and grabbing 7 rebounds in just 18 minutes, while recording his first start since coming back from an injury. The other 3 Bucks starters Robin Lopez, Eric Bledsoe, and Wesley Matthews combined for 16 points on 5-15 (33.3%) shooting. Coach Fizdale said before the game, the Knicks strategy was to force the Bucks supporting cast to score and do everything they can to stop Giannis. That certainly is not how it played out. Even more concerning, the Milwaukee bench slaughtered the Knicks. D.J. Wilson scored a career high 19 points and only missed 1 shot (which was a heat-check, contested 3) in 9 attempts from the field. Donte Divincenzo (11 points), George Hill (14 points), and Thanasis Antetokounmpo (10 points) all scored double digits off the bench. It is understandable to have no answer for the Bucks starters led by the Greak Freak (especially without Morris Sr. and Ntilikina). However, getting blown out by the Milwaukee bench (outscored the Knicks bench 71-51) can only be attributed to a lack of effort and coaching. The Knicks shot an unbelievably terrible 30.8% from the floor, but that was due to bad shot selection, rather than bad luck. Julius Randle scored 19 points in this game and seemed to have to score over multiple defenders on every basket. The Knicks ball movement and offense in general has been atrocious all season and that was very evident in this game, generating very few open looks. New York only turned the ball over 10 times, but only recorded 13 assists and 53 rebounds, significantly less than Milwaukee’s 30 assists and 71 rebounds. The Knicks are built on interior scorers (Randle, Barrett, Dennis Smith Jr., Bobby Portis Jr., Taj Gibson, and Mitchell Robinson). Yet, they were still outscored 54-30 in points in the paint.

Outlook

Changes seem to be inevitable after a game like this. December 15th, just 11 days away, is the date when all players signed to new contracts this past offseason, are eligible to be traded. A new coach and edited roster, look to be in the cards for the Knicks come 2020. Coach Fizdale hasn’t progressed the youngsters (Knox, Robinson, Trier, and Smith Jr.) at all. Ntilikina has made some significant strides, but only after Fizdale was forced to insert him into the lineup with Elfrid Payton being sidelined. RJ Barrett has been fantastic as a rookie, but it isn’t clear how much of that is credit to Fizdale’s assistance. Last season the Knicks started the season 7-14 and finished with the worst record in the league (17-65). The Knicks are currently 4-17 through 21 games. This is after New York dished out $70 million this offseason and added the 3rd pick in the draft, RJ Barrett, who has been tremendous. Everyone is to blame; front office, coaching staff, and the players. It is clear however, the Knicks have more talent this year and have regressed. Clearly, the coaching staff is underperforming. I would expect the Knicks to fire Fizdale if they don’t start winning some games and playing competitive basketball in the next couple weeks. Mills’ and Perry’s jobs should be safe until the offseason, having one last chance to progress this team before the trade deadline. As for the players that look most likely to be moved, Marcus Morris Sr., Bobby Portis, Wayne Ellington, Allonzo Trier and Elfrid Payton all will likely be on the market. Rumors have swirled that the Knicks are open to moving anyone on the roster, but I believe it is very unlikely that they move any of their core, young, assets (Barrett, Ntilikina, Robinson, Knox, and Smith Jr.). The Knicks will be seeking younger talent, especially dynamic scorers that can shoot the ball. Allonzo Trier should be closely monitored as he can score the ball effectively, unlike the majority of New York’s roster, but has been left outside of Fizdale’s rotation. A new coach or team could display his scoring prowess and get the most out of the 23 year old.

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