It has only been three games, but there has been a lot to like about the 3-0 start to the season for the New York Knicks.
For one, a 3-0 start hasn’t happened since the 1999-2000 season, but there are a couple reasons behind the early success.
One of course is the offense, which has been shooting the lights out early on, but the biggest reason for the Knicks early success has been the work put in on the defensive end of the floor.
Head coach Mike Woodson preached in the offseason about the need for a veteran team, going as far as saying that young players don’t win championships.
He got that and during training camp, the first word out of every player’s mouth was defense.
But after three games, it’s clear that everyone has bought into playing great defense as that has been the catalyst to the Knicks hot start.
The Knicks have scored over 100 points in all three games so far, but the impressive part is that they allowed only 84 in the first two games and 88 last night. Those efforts came against the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers, two of the final eight teams standing at the end of the season last year.
A big part of their success on the defensive end has come in the form of contesting shots and pressuring the ball.
There have been far less wide open shots for the opposition.
It has shown in the numbers as the opposition is shooting only 40.6 percent (96-of-236) from the floor in three games.
In years past, teams have had it easy camping around the perimeter and knocking down open three’s. That area of the Knicks’ defense has also been impressive as through three games, teams have hit only 38.9 percent (23-of-59) of their shots from behind the arc. That number could still improve, but the Knicks are recognizing shooters and doing a better job of rotating to them.
There have also been improvements in terms of fouling.
By playing better team defense, the Knicks are fouling less frequently as the opposition is attempting only 16.3 free-throws per contest.
Then there is the ball pressure I was referring to as the Knicks opposition has committed 17.3 turnovers per game as well.
Three games is a very small sample size, but you have to be excited about what we’ve seen from this team so far.
Also keep in mind that the Knicks have been doing this without the services of Iman Shumpert, one of the better perimeter defenders in the NBA and Marcus Camby, one of the better interior defenders.
When the two of them finally join the Knicks’ rotation, this could become one of the better defensive teams in the NBA.
It’s a cliché, but it has always been said that defense wins championships.
Hopefully the Knicks keep this up and can attempt to test that theory out.
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