Defense, Defense, Defense.
It was all anyone in a New York Knicks’ uniform could talk about dating all the way back to before training camp began. The Knicks had a defensive minded coach in place in Mike Woodson, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Tyson Chandler and added enough veterans who could play solid defense in order to help this team win.
And it worked. At least through nine games when the Knicks were the top rated defensive team in the NBA.
But since then we have learned that actions speak louder than words and talk is cheap because this team is not backing up any of the claims they made about being a great defensive team.
After their strong start on defense, the Knicks have slipped to 17th in the league in defensive efficiency and are allowing opponents to shoot 45.7 percent from the field — the 22nd highest total in the league. In addition, they have slipped from first in the league in points allowed to 11th (96.6).
“We’ve had some slippage,” Woodson told ESPN’s Ian Begley, citing the team’s lack of practicing time as a reason, not an excuse, for the recent defensive lapses. “… We watched tape today and I was very demanding in terms of the slippage that we’ve had as of late. We don’t want to go that way. We want to continue to go back the other way where we were playing at a high level defensively. Right now, we look like we’re trying to outscore teams and that’s not good.”
The Rockets alone blitzed the Knicks twice, scoring 131 points in their first meeting and 56 in the second half in the second meeting on Monday.
Too many times as of late, Knicks’ defenders have been left on an island as the help just hasn’t been there. By comparison, the help defense was outstanding the first half of the season.
The first 10 games of the season, the Knicks allowed opponents to top the century mark only three times and lost two of those games. However the opposition has hit the 100-point mark in four of the past five games, which is something that needs addressed immediately.
The Knicks can start fixing things beginning Wednesday night when the Brooklyn Nets pay a visit to Madison Square Garden.
If they don’t start tightening up the defense soon, this team will start looking less and less like a contender despite their impressive 18-6 record.