Knicks Can't Defend Worst Offenses

by Jeff Fogle 26. February 2011 00:57

Since the Carmelo Anthony trade, the New York Knicks have faced the two worst offenses in the NBA, and made them look like two of the best offenses in the NBA.

The standards for offensive efficiency (points scored per 100 possessions) heading into Friday action:

League Leader: Denver 109.7
League Average: 104.3

The two worst offenses in the league:
Milwaukee: 98.4
Cleveland: 98.6

New York opened the Carmelo-era allowing 108 points on 99 possessions to Milwaukee for a 109.1 efficiency mark. Friday night they allowed 115 points to Cleveland at an even faster pace, which will end up projecting in the same neighborhood once the numbers are in the books.

There were concerns about New York's defense after the trade, given the very poor defensive reputations of Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, the age of Chauncey Billups, and the general lack of emphasis on defense from head coach Mike D'Antoni. Thus far, those concerns have been justified. New York has turned the two worst offenses into the equivalent of league leaders. What's going to happen when they face GOOD offenses?!

Problem areas thus far:

New York put Milwaukee on the line 32 times Wednesday Night, then saw Cleveland march to the line 44 times Friday. It's worth noting that some of that Cavs total was a garbage-time free throw parade as the Knicks had to resort to desperation measures. Cleveland ended 31 of 44, but it was 26 of 38 with 24 seconds to go.

Milwaukee: 25 of 32
Cleveland: 26 of 38 pre-desperation

The Cavs didn't exploit their free throw opportunities as well as they could have. Both teams attacked the basket knowing they'd earn some trips to the charity stripe.

Perimeter Defense
The Bucks and Cavs combined to go 17 of 44 for 38.6% from behind the arc. The two have combined to hit about 34% for the year. You don't want to judge this stat too harshly on two games because it's a fickle category. But, early returns suggest the Knicks aren't great at denying open looks from long range.

Defensive Rebounding
Cleveland had a stunning 19 offensive rebounds Friday, compared to just 29 defensive rebounds for the Knicks. Remember when Indiana was grading out so well in the low 30% range in offensive rebound rate right after Frank Vogel took over? Cleveland was a fraction under 40% in that stat tonight. The Cavs would win the battle of the boards 62-42 overall.

Oh, Cleveland is the third worst offensive rebounding team in the league this season.

It's only two games. And, there are going to be growing pains whenever new players are thrown together with little preparation. The Knicks are likely to get better as they get more acquainted with each other. The problem is, two bad defending bigs and an aging guard getting better acquainted may not help the defensive rotations that much.

Offensively, Carmelo backed off a bit so Stoudemire could get some more shots.

Stoudemire: 27 shots, 3 assists, 31 points
Anthony: 22 shots, 3 assists, 27 points

Nobody can complain about the offensive production so far. But, the offensive production was fine before the trade. As we mentioned last week, New York's recent slump featured a playoff caliber offense but one of the worst defenses in the league during that stretch. Nothing new to report. New York was 6-11 their prior 17 games before the trade. Splitting with 22-35 Milwaukee, and 11-47 Cleveland is a continuation of that form.

New York just played a composite 223-223 two-game tie with opponents who are a combined 33-82 this season. That's where they stand heading into Sunday night's game at Miami.

Transition Points:

*Big result for Utah Friday, as the Jazz rebounded from recent woes with a 95-84 win at Indiana. Great to see such defensive intensity when it was missing for so long. Indiana was 13 of 47 shooting in the first half! And, it's not like the Pacers were just firing up bombs that were missing. Indiana was 0-5 on treys, 13 of 42 on two-pointers in the first two quarters.

The Pacers did keep crashing those offensive boards though, posting a 35.1 offensive rebound rate. Tyler Hansborough had 6 by himself on a 1 of 11 shooting night. Was he just grabbing his own misses and missing again?

First win for Tyrone Corbin. New Jazz Devin Harris had 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists in 29 minutes (but 5 turnovers). Derrick Favors only played 15 minutes. The bulk of great defense came from the guys who weren't defending during that stretch we documented a few weeks ago. Maybe we'll find out what was going on behind the scenes sometime before 2015!

*Detroit only played six guys tonight because of the veteran revolt earlier in the day. Elton Brand of Philadelphia had 20 points and 16 rebounds in 29 minutes against the makeshift lineup. Kind of gives you a sense of what would happen if a D-League team had to play in the NBA, though Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva might take exception to the comparison.

How would Cleveland or Toronto (3-19 its last 22 games) do in the D-League? Don't contract, relegate!

*Evidence of teams prioritizing certain games at the expense of others:

Chicago allowed 118 points to horrible Toronto the night before playing Miami
Miami allowed 113 points to horrible Washington the night after playing Chicago

It was Chicago 93, Miami 89 when the Eastern powers went at each other's throats.

Did you see the footage of Chris Bosh pretending he got nailed near the throat? (More the jaw really, but this was a more artistic digression!) Maybe the 1 for 18 shooting was just him selling the concussion.

*Going to put the Superleague on the back burner for some time, or bring it back later in a different form. Several Western teams have surged in recent weeks in a way that made excluding them kind of crazy. The Knicks recent woes suggest they're borderline in the East until they get things in gear.

One of the challenges for analysts in the coming weeks will be differentiating in the West amongst Portland, Memphis, Denver, New Orleans, Phoenix, and Utah in terms of how well they're playing at the moment. Maybe you can throw Houston and Golden State in there too even though Golden State hasn't looked good in a game and a half (as I write this) since the break. And, maybe even the LA Clippers when Eric Gordon comes back and the team isn't on the road every night.

*Big TV games this weekend are:

Boston at the LA Clippers Saturday night on the NBA Network
LA Lakers at Oklahoma City Sunday on ABC
New York at Miami Sunday night on ESPN
Atlanta at Portland Sunday night (later) on ESPN
Boston at Utah Monday night on the NBA Network

See you again Monday night for a review...

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2/26/2011 2:45:17 AM #


Anybody getting too excited about the all-new Knicks needs to remember that they're more or less locked in for the six seed, and Chicago would be a brutal first round test for just about any team.

How many wins do they get in that hypothetical 3-6 match-up with Chicago?  How many more than if they didn't do the trade?  My answer to both is one even though that's not very exciting.  

It's progress for the Knicks, but I expect a short post-season and then it's back to the regular season grind.  Then we'll know more about this team and where they stand going forward.

Greyberger United States

3/2/2011 8:27:11 AM #

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3/3/2011 4:28:39 AM #

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