After losing a disappointing game to the Orlando Magic, the New York Knicks bounced back impressively against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday evening. Philadelphia entered the game winning two of their first three games, scoring over 108 points in each contest.
However, the Knicks’ defense held Philadelphia to just 99 points, limiting center Joel Embiid to 14 points over 30 minutes. Considering the quality that Embiid brings to the floor, it was impressive to see how the Knicks defended him, predominantly the added muscle of Mitchell Robinson, who recorded seven points and recorded six rebounds in the contest.
The Knicks move the ball far more efficiently, playing the hot hand rather than forcing Julius Randle to pick up the load in isolation, which he tried to do against Orlando, proving to be a poor strategy. The Knicks ultimately rode point guard Kemba Walker to victory, piggybacking on his 19 points and 5-of-11 shooting from three-point range. He also contributed five assists and two steals.
Walker was one of the more exciting off-season signings, replacing Elfrid Payton with superior offensive capabilities, which he displayed on Tuesday evening. Just when the 76ers tried to regain momentum, Walker would rain fire down upon them from range, utilizing his quick movements to create space and opportunities.
Entering the game, Walker was averaging just 10.3 points per game, doubling that in the victory. He shot 45.5% from three-point range and 46.7% from the field, currently hovering above 50%, shooting from deep on the season.
The combination of Kemba and Derrick Rose has proven to be a significant factor early on in the year, as the second team veteran contributed 13 points over 20 minutes.
With such a deep team, there doesn’t seem to be a massive drop-off in talent at most positions, which is exactly how the Knicks planned to structure their roster. Walker’s influence will be huge against more prominent teams like Philadelphia, and the Knicks displayed some of their dominance in the bounce-back victory.