After a 127-107 rout by the Lakers in their last contest, the Knicks know they needed to figure out their problems defensively before they face the Warriors on Tuesday night.
Golden State owns a NBA-best 37-10 record that includes being 16-6 at their home Oracle Arena. So, if the Knicks can't contain the Lakers on their home court, how will they tame the red-hot Warriors?
Head coach Jeff Hornacek believes getting his team's fundamentals back to where he wants them will help.
"Just getting back to fundamentals that we were stressing at the beginning of the year," Hornacek told Newsday's Anthony Rieber after practice Monday. "We've had some slippage in that...Our focus today was not Golden State. It's on some of our basic principles that we've got to get better at and continue to work on. Tomorrow, we'll try to go over a game plan that will hopefully slow them down a bit."
It doesn't help that the Warriors are coming off a close loss to the Rockets on Saturday, and have not played since then. Combine those two factors and Hornacek knows his team must match the Warriors' intensity if they want a chance to steal a win.
"We know they'll have a lot of energy," he said. "Great teams come off losses with a different mindset. Guys are going to have to be ready...They can score a lot of points. So we're going to have to do a lot of things right in that game."
Kristaps Porzingis is one of those guys that needs to be ready. He didn't have a fun trip to Oakland last year with the Warriors, specifically F Draymond Green, holding him to just eight points.
"He's a good defender," Porzingis said. "I'm excited. It's going to be a good game."
Porzingis is also awaiting word on the NBA All-Star reserves that will be announced tonight. The 7-foot-3 Latvian has wanted to become an All-Star since entering the league, and as Sixers F Joel Embiid beat him out by a small margin in the starters' category, there is a good chance he will be voted a reserve by the NBA coaches.
"It would be a dream come true for me for sure to be an All-Star," Porzingis said. "I never really thought it was something possible before I made it to the NBA. As I kept playing and kept going as a player, I just always set high goals for myself, and to be an All-Star, that would be a dream come true for me, definitely."
Porzingis has All-Star worthy numbers with 23.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, and a league-leading 2.3 blocks per game. The Knicks will need him to perform as an All-Star tonight as the Warriors already flaunt two Western Conference starters in PG Stephen Curry and SF Kevin Durant.
As for the rest of the team, fundamentals will go a long way in Hornacek's eyes in keeping the game competitive.
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The Knicks just gave up 127 points to the lowly Lakers, who were playing without Lonzo Ball and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. It's going to take a lot more than fundamentals to shock the world and beat the Warriors on the road.
The Warriors are first in the NBA with just under 116 PPG. The Knicks have allowed just under 106 PPG, which is 15th in the NBA. Both of those don't shape up well for the Knicks being able to stop the high-octane Golden State offense.
Also, why is it that now Jeff Hornacek is talking about refined fundamentals? Where have they been? This is another sign of poor coaching from Hornacek and assistant coach Kurt Rambis, who was supposed to be the "defensive-minded" assistant coach. The fact the Knicks let up 127 points against a depleted Lakers team is absolutely inexcusable, and it could get worse tonight.
Kevin Durant is going to have a field day, whether it's Tim Hardaway Jr. or Courtney Lee covering him. He's going to have a mismatch, and should take advantage all night long. I don't expect the Knicks to make this a competitive game in the second half. The Warriors should beat them by double digits.