“We know we can beat them teams. We’ve beaten teams like that before. Today we just couldn’t get over that hump, couldn’t get over that - in the fourth quarter we didn’t score the ball, they made plays in the fourth quarter. Giving up 31 points in the fourth quarter, that’s usually not us. It’s usually the other way around. I won’t put no emphasis on not being able to beat good teams.”
I agree with Melo, but with some caveats. The New York Knicks might not have an issue beating good teams, but certain kinds of defenses might pose problems.
If you noticed, the Bulls, Pacers and Grizzlies were on that list of teams New York's fared poorly against. This might be less an "inferiority complex" than New York's fluid offense stagnating against the league's elite defenses.
The Knicks' concern is that their 2012-13 defense isn't elite. Fortunately, their offense is deadly, thanks to a spread pick-and-roll approach that yields many, many three-point looks.
But what happens when a top-level, athletic defense disrupts New York's flow? Against the Chicago Bulls, New York managed a little more than 38 percent from the field this season. Against the Indiana Pacers, the Knicks were stymied to the tune of 35.8 percent from the field.
New York's offense is a marvel of spacing and rhythm. I'm a big proponent of their "four-out" strategy of spreading the floor with four three-point shooters and creating penetration off high screen-and-roll.
The approach works most nights, but it's possible that it's less than ideal against specific, fast-moving defenses. It's also possible that New York might be at a loss for how to handle their offense when initially thwarted.
Regardless of cause, the Knicks had better address whatever ailed them against Indiana and Chicago. It's hard to envision a playoffs in which New York gets to avoid both teams.
New York can win most any playoff series, based on their ability to drown the opposition in threes. At more than 29 attempts per contest, they lead the league.
The Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls specialize in cutting down on opponent three-point attempts, though, and so far, their defenses have won that battle versus New York's O. In the playoffs we should get a better understanding of whether the spread pick-and-roll can work in a hostile, Midwestern environment.