During their second year in the D-League, the Westchester Knicks have made improvements from their inaugural season. A team that only won 10 games last season is on track to double their win total from their 2014-15 campaign. While the Knicks have not looked good in their recent stretch, the team has performed well against the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
The Skyforce have shown this season why they are the most dominant team in the D-League and could surpass the highest win total by a D-League team, which is currently held by the 2010-11 Los Angeles D-Fenders. The D-Fenders finished the 2010-11 campaign with a 38-12 record. Sioux Falls has compiled a 23-7 record in the first half of the season, and three of those losses came against Westchester. The Skyforce have been without DeAndre Liggins and Greg Whittington in three of the four games; Liggins has not played since January 9th and Whittington has not suited up since December 14th. Liggins and Whittington both played in their first meeting back in November, and the Knicks picked up the victory.
Even though the Knicks won three of their four meetings, Westchester could have won their second meeting if it was not for a late collapse. Sioux Falls was able to outscore Westchester by 16 points (30-14) in the fourth quarter to give the Skyforce their fifth win in a row.
When DeAndre Liggins returns to the lineup, he will be able to provide the team with an offensive spark. The Skyforce will benefit from his three-point shooting when he makes his return. Through 19 games this season, the 6'6″ guard has shot 44.8 percent from downtown. In addition, Liggins will give the Skyforce another healthy body heading into the final months of the season, which is much needed as several of their players have played numerous thirty minute games in the recent stretch.
On the other side, Westchester has shot the ball at a great rate from deep against the Skyforce. In their four meetings, the Knicks are shooting 48.4 percent from beyond the arc. The Knicks are lights out with their three-point shooting, but their interior play against Sioux Falls has been up to par, if not worse. "We started this game knowing this team is at the top of the league in terms of paint points and then they add (Jarnell) Stokes to the mix, who is very, very difficult to defend down there,"Mike Miller said after Westchester's 95-91 over Sioux Falls. In their last meeting, the Skyforce almost doubled the Knicks in paint points (50-30).
While the Skyforce maintain a five and a half game lead over the Canton Charge in the Central Division, the Charge are making a push towards the top spot. Canton has won eight of their last ten games, which includes a six-game winning streak.
On the other side, Westchester will be battling for the top spot in the Atlantic Division for the remainder of the season. The Knicks have dropped their past two games, which allowed the Maine Red Claws to take hold of first place. Both the Knicks and Red Claws will start off the second half of the season against division teams. Those games will be crucial, as both teams have nearly identical division records.
While the playoffs would be positive for the Knicks in their second season in the D-League, the team needs to focus on picking up wins. Westchester has lost six of their last ten games. Based off their meetings in the regular season, there is no doubt the Knicks and Skyforce would put on a show if the two teams meet in the playoffs.