The New York Knicks steamrolled through the early portion of their schedule. By mid-December they had the best record in the Eastern Conference at 18-6 and were being touted as a legitimate championship contender.Since then, New York has lost four of their past seven games, revealing several flaws on both ends of the floor in the process. Teams like the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers have provided the rest of the league with a blueprint for beating them.5. A Steady Diet of Pick-and-RollThe Knicks' defense has been horrendous over the past few weeks, starting with their inability to defend the pick-and-roll. According to ESPNNewYork.com, heading into their game against the Portland Trail Blazers on January 1, New York had surrendered the 752 points off the pick-and-roll, seventh most in the NBA.That subpar pick-and-roll defense has been weakened in recent games by injuries to key contributors. Raymond Felton's broken finger forced coach Mike Woodson to move Jason Kidd to the 1. At 39 years old, the future Hall of Famer is no longer quick enough to stay in front of point guards many years his junior.Woodson felt compelled to play Pablo Prigioni—an offensive liability who is 35 years old himself—down the stretch against Portland Wednesday night. Iman Shumpert, the team's best on-the-ball defender last season, is still recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL.
"I've never been taught defense in my whole career, so to now have a coach that actually teaches defense and teaches strategies, and knows positioning and posture, how to guard different plays, it's going to be helpful. I'm going to take it as a challenge, and I'm going to accept the challenge and try to improve as a player."
Unfortunately for Amar'e and the Knicks, his lack of schooling on defensive principles is only part of the problem. The six-time All-Star experiences frequent mental lapses on defense, leading to easy layups or open baskets for his man, like the one seen below.
... And, of course, on the glass. In the first half, the Blazers had 9 offensive rebounds; the
#Knickshttps://twitter.com/search/%23Knicks">#Knicks> only had 7 defensive boards. — Jared Zwerling (@JaredZwerling) https://twitter.com/JaredZwerling/status/286298466194436096" data-datetime="2013-01-02T02:30:48+00:00">January 2, 2013
Teams are free to crash the offensive boards against the Knicks because Mike Woodson's team will not make them pay for it on the other end. The Knicks' pace of 92.9 possessions per game ranks 25th in the NBA, according to Hoopdata.com. New York is even less inclined to push the tempo with Raymond Felton on the sideline. 2. Force the Knicks Point Guards to Make a Play on Pick-and-RollsRaymond Felton and Tyson Chandler have sliced and diced defenses with the high pick-and-roll this season, often culminating in thunderous slams by Chandler.
|FG Percentage||Shot Distribution|
47 percent |
|A. Restricted Area|
32 percent |
|B. In the Paint (Non-RA)|
38 percent |
28 percent |
|D. Corner Three|
38 percent |
|E. Above-the-Break Three|
Instead of hedging, the man defending the screener (Chandler) should maintain contact with the screener and sink toward the basket. Chandler is not a threat to step out and knock down a jump shot, nor are his backups Rasheed Wallace—who, despite his proclivity for letting it fly, is shooting 39 percent from the field—and Marcus Camby.Teams can live with Felton's efficiency on pull-up jumpers and around the basket. That approach is even more effective against backup point guards Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni.Kidd no longer possesses the quickness to beat his man to the basket. Just 13 percent of his shots have come from inside the paint this season. He and Prigioni both prefer to hit the screener or kick the ball out to the perimeter rather than look for their own shot.1. Play Carmelo Anthony One-on-OneCarmelo Anthony is the second leading scorer in the NBA, averaging 29.2 points per game and is virtually impossible to defend one-on-one, yet that is exactly what teams need to do to beat the Knicks.The Knicks' game plan is to get No. 7 going early—in fact, he leads the league in first-quarter scoring. Once defenses begin to help out on Anthony, he makes them pay by moving the ball to the Knicks' outside shooters, who are draining threes at a record-setting pace.