Week seven of the New York Knicks season ended with the team’s health in limbo. After losing Kristaps Porzingis to an ankle injury, Tim Hardaway Jr. was sidelined as well in Sunday’s afternoon game against the Orlando Magic. News of Hardaway’s injury came as a surprise and undoubtedly was a blow to the team. The team dodged a bullet after Porzingis’ injury was determined less serious than originally thought. Porzingis and Hardaway will both be out Monday against the Indiana Pacers. The team will need extra effort from everyone without their two leading scorers. Hopefully, these won’t be lingering injuries.
Every time he’s been called upon to start, Michael Beasley has stepped up. In three starts this season, Beasley has averaged 18 points. Beasley has been extremely reliable in New York this season. Not much was expected after he signed a one year deal with the team in the offseason. His excellent play has been noticed by the coaching staff and that earned him a season-high in minutes last Saturday. This week in three games Beasley has averaged 11 points and has shot 54 percent from the field. He has been very efficient when the ball is in his hands.
One area Beasley has to work on in his turnovers. In his last four games, Beasley has 16 turnovers which give the opposing team way too many extra chances. Hopefully more promised playing time will help him clean his sloppy play up.
Week after week Courtney Lee shows no signs of slowing down. Lee averaged 17 points in three games this week while shooting 58 percent from the field. Furthermore, he has been tremendously effective from beyond the arc. Lee ranks seventh in 3-point percentage among all the NBA.
Lee is no stranger when it comes to the charity stripe, and he’s one of the NBA leaders in that area too. Lee’s free throw percentage, 92, is sixth in all of the NBA. He has no doubt been a key contributor to the Knicks early success.
Enes Kanter exploded back on the court in his first two games returning from a back injury. Kanter averaged 20 points and 15 rebounds in the two games he played this week. This Knicks were happy to see his return as they could ill afford to lost Kanter, Porzingis, and Hardaway for an extended period.
Kanter showed his importance in the lineup helping the team break a three-game slide. Going forward, Kanter is a great presence in the paint and his rebounding excellence gives the team multiple chances to score.
The Knicks have been in 9th place in the Eastern Conference for two straight weeks. They’ve been lucky enough not to dip further. However, the Knicks are very close to attaining a losing record after two sub-par weeks of play. The Knicks next game against the Pacers proves to be an extremely important one. The Pacers are one slot above the Knicks in the standings at the eighth seed in the conference. Even though it is still relatively early in the season, every game counts when you’re fighting to make the playoffs.
The Knicks play four games this week, three against losing teams. That doesn’t mean they’ll come out with three wins. However, with their two leading scorers banged up, things could be worse; they could be playing the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics. If the Knicks can scrap their way to a couple wins this week, the team’s outlook can only improve. The Knicks play a second of a back to back Monday and two games in a row on the weekend. This team will be tested with little time to rest.
The early season magic seems to be wearing off for the Knicks. Boston, Toronto, and Philadelphia seem to be separating themselves from the Knicks and Nets. The season is still young, but it’s important for the Knicks not to fall back in the standings. The Knicks were 11-9 at this point in the season last year. So there’s not much of a disparity between this year and last.
This team needs to treat each game with playoff intensity, especially with two players injured. Hopefully, the rookie duo of Frank Ntilikina and Damyean Dotson can make some noise this week as well. Two players that look to get extended playing time.