The Mike Miller Era Is Set To Begin

Alex Wolfe

A new chapter begins for the Knicks tonight, but it certainly won’t be an easy task for the 4-18 ’Bockers to open the Mike Miller era.

The Indiana Pacers (14-8) visit the Garden on Saturday night, winners of seven of their last nine games, but coming in for the second game of a road back-to-back after a tight loss to the Detroit Pistons Friday night on the road.

Of course, it’s not like a win is the sole indicator of a “good” performance for the Knicks tonight under Miller. Just losing by 20 points or less would be a welcome change after the two straight losses of at least 37 points in their last two games that ultimately ended David Fizdale’s Knicks tenure.

Miller is at least confident that his newly-inherited group of players should be able to do that.

“The players, we have a high character group of players," Miller said in his pregame press conference. "They’re professional, they come in to work every day. The message is, we want to be more consistent. We’re going to be more consistent in what we do and how we work. Play the game possession to possession.”

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The immediate road ahead certainly won’t be easy for Miller: tonight’s game against Indiana, then a four-game west coast trip featuring a back-to-back and four games in six nights. After Fizdale was allowed to run yesterday’s practice, that means Miller is in a spot where he might not get any quality practice time to install his principles until the week of Dec. 16.

For his first night, though, the focus is just on beating the Indiana Pacers, and even without a full practice under his belt, Miller feels like the team is prepared. First item on the agenda: moving the ball as much as possible.

“We want movement," Miller said. "Let’s get some force with our entries coming into our offense, let’s have some attack, let’s get downhill more and put more pressure on that defense and do that consistently. Because when we’ve done that, we felt like we’ve had good possessions, and we’ve had good quarters, good halves, good games.”

The Knicks will run out the same starting lineup as they have recently: Frank Ntilikina, RJ Barrett, Marcus Morris, Julius Randle and Taj Gibson. Miller said "we’ve gotten off to some good starts with that group,” and he's not wrong. Starting off competitive hasn't been the problem for this team of late, it's been adjusting throughout the game and finishing strong.

The lack of practice time didn't seem to bother the Knicks' new coach either, as he said all of Saturday was spent getting ready for the Pacers.

“I think the fortunate thing is how good our staff is and how quickly everything connected," Miller said. "We went through, we had a shootaround this morning, we did video, we did the scouting report, we’ve been working on Indiana all day. And guys have been terrific.”

Gameplan aside, just seeing some fight out of this team should be enough to quell the boos at home and put a little ice on the hot seat that Steve Mills and Scott Perry have moved onto in Fizdale’s absence. An immediate turnaround tonight shouldn't be expected, but improvement is a must.

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