Evan Fournier calls out Knicks' offensive game plan: 'We have to adapt'

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Evan Fournier is part of one of the worst lineups in the NBA, one of five Knicks starters who, collectively, possess the worst plus/minus of any five-man group in the league after Wednesday’s blowout loss to the Heat.

But Fournier, who has struggled badly shooting the ball at times this season, with many criticizing New York’s decision to sign him to a $78 million deal, has some ideas on how to fix the starters’ inability to find consistent scoring.

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Fournier and New York struggled all night to generate consistent offense in a 110-96 loss, with Miami leading by as many as 30 in the third quarter. After the game, Fournier told reporters that the Knicks have to change up their game plan if they are to find any kind of success.

“My point is that we have to adapt to what other teams are doing,” Fournier said. “When we had that big stretch, we were playing a certain way, because the guys in front of us were doing something similar every time. When we play a team that does things differently, we have to be able to adjust.

“If they take away what we do well, then we have to do something else and be OK with that. You have to create opportunities and let the game come to you.”

Fournier specifically noted how the Heat defense used strategic switches with Bam Adebayo to disrupt New York’s offensive rhythm, and it worked to perfection, especially against the starters. Fournier was a -27 on the night, while Julius Randle was a -34 and RJ Barrett a -36. Starting point guard Kemba Walker was a -30.

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Asked what his plan of attack would have been against the Heat, Fournier offered an extended and thought-out reponse.

“You can’t control what the team in front of you is gonna do,” Fournier said. “If they’re gonna switch, they’re gonna switch. You can’t just force them to not switch. It’s impossible. Just try to use it to your advantage…if you ask me, I would just get to the pick and roll with…whoever is the smallest guard guarding the ball, put him in that pick and roll, make sure they switch, hit the wing and try to play a flash game with the big inside. You have [Mitchell Robinson], who is very tall and long and you can lob a pass to him, and if there’s help behind him, you just flash.”

Fournier said the Knicks’ troubles were not based in physicality, rather “organization,” giving specific examples as to how Miami stymied New York’s offense by switching defenders like Adebayo onto the ball off of screens. Adebayo, one of the top defenders in the NBA, stayed on the ball off of screens to defend perimeter shots, while the Knicks couldn’t take advantage of mismatches inside with Robinson, who finished with just seven points.
Fournier only had seven points of his own, but had plenty to say of his unit’s game plan, and how it needs to be more flexible if the Knicks are to fight back into the playoff picture.

“We just have to be able to adapt,” Fournier said. “I think that’s the key for us offensively when we’re struggling like that. Because we have the weapons. Let’s be honest. We have guys that can score. It shouldn’t be a problem.”

Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1

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