The New York Knicks will host Ja Morant and company inside Madison Square Garden April 9th. The Memphis Grizzlies are top five in overall rebounding and second in the entire league when it comes to offensive rebounding. Although the Memphis Grizzlies are bottom five in the league in regards to three point field goals made, they lead the league in steals with 9.6 per contest. New York Knicks Head Coach Tom Thibodeau has his work cut out for him especially when it comes to slowing down the talented generational point guard Ja Morant.
Rebounding The Basketball for 48 Minutes.
The Knicks lead the league statistically against three point shooting percentages. With Memphis already being a poor three point shooting team, plenty of rebounds will be available for the Memphis Grizzlies, who is currently ranked fifth in offensive rebounding in the entire league. The Knicks guards must be ready for those long rebounds off missed three point attempts and turn those into fast break opportunities. The Knicks are a decent rebounding team themselves, however, they must rebound the basketball as a team for a full 48 minutes. Knicks have missed Mitchell Robinson’s presence in the paint as of late and it showed during the Wednesday night two point loss to the Boston Celtics, who out rebounded the Knicks by 14. Thibodeau often reminds the Knicks unit that a defensive possession isn’t finished until a defensive rebound occurs.
Tough one. Back home on Friday. pic.twitter.com/cH61t5VT5m— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) April 8, 2021
Provide Strong Perimeter Defense Against Grizzlies Sharpshooting Bench.
The Memphis Grizzlies starting five haven’t shot it well from three this season thus far. However, the Memphis bench possess the ability to make it rain from deep. DeAnthony Melton, Desmond Bane, and Grayson Allen can sink three pointers in their opponents faces.
Knicks must communicate and be in sync on perimeter rotations against the Memphis bench. Former Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Taylor Jenkins will be orchestrating for Memphis from the sidelines as their head coach. Jenkins is very familiar with having his players space the floor properly for open three point shot attempts. Meanwhile, Tom Thibodeau for the Knicks has the Knicks defending the perimeter at a very high level.
Keep Ja Morant Out the Paint.
The former NBA Rookie of the Year is a terror in transition and can pretty much get into the paint at will causing opposing defenders to get into foul trouble at a quick rate. The slight 6’3” 175lbs guard is an average free throw shooter at 75.3% percent. However, Morant currently averages 7.4 assists per game this season. Limiting his ability to attack the rim will help limit his creativeness in finding teammates. Unfortunately, Frank Ntilikina hasn’t been playing well enough offensively. Ntilikina would be the perfect defensive matchup for Morant due to Ntilikina’s perimeter and solid on-ball defense. Don’t be surprised to see Ntilikina defend Morant in spurts. This is another game where the Knicks will miss Mitchell Robinson’s 30-minutes of terrorizing paint protection. So what can the Knicks do?
Attack and Wear Down Ja Morant From an Offensive Standpoint.
Making Ja Morant defend in mismatches would help, especially if he gets into foul trouble. It would also take energy away from him on the offensive end due to him spending plenty of energy defensively. The high flying guard is the engine of the Grizzlies offense, therefore, anything that contributes to potentially taking him out of his element must be enforced. Elfrid Payton, Rose, and Quickley must make Morant work defensively.
Knicks Must Get Back on Defense. Preventing Easy Transition Baskets is a Major Key to Victory Against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Slow Mo.— NBA (@NBA) April 8, 2021
Ja Morant and the Grizzlies love to get the ball up the court in a hurry and create highlight reel plays at the rim. It’s imperative for the Knicks to protect the basketball against the league leader in steals per game on Friday. Stopping the momentum of the Grizzlies will make them uncomfortable. Slowing the pace and completely controlling the tempo is what Thibs and the Knicks must accomplish against Memphis.