The New York Knicks have come down to Earth in the last week. Losing three out of their last six, the Knicks can no longer call themselves the best team in basketball anymore. Even though they beat the Heat twice this season by 20 points, they now lead the Knicks in the Eastern Conference. They have the sixth best record in the league behind the Clippers, Thunder, Heat, Spurs, and Grizzlies. They still have a phenomenal record of 21-8 but they’re current mini-slump defiantly raises some eyebrows. Here are some reasons why the Knicks are in this mini-slump.
Mike Woodson has prided himself on his team’s defense but in the latest three Knicks losses, his team has given up an average of 106 points. You’re not going to win many games giving up over 100 points in this league. Hopefully this isn’t the Knicks going back to their old ways but I don’t think that’s the case. It’s hard to come out and execute perfectly every game. A very good sign for Woodson is that the Knicks have only lost two games in a row once this season and that was over a month ago. Bouncing back after loses is what makes good teams great. A team that doesn’t lose two in a year is very hard to knock out in the playoffs.
Another reason the Knicks are in this slump is the play of Raymond Felton. Any Knicks fan who has been watching these games has noticed Felton’s increase in shots. Felton is not a scoring point guard, it’s not what he was brought here to do but he is putting up field goal attempts like he is Russell Westbrook or Kyrie Irving. His shot attempts in latest three Knicks losses: 21, 18, and 19. Out of these 58 shots, Felton has hit 21, shooting a terrible 36 percent from the field. Felton needs to be more efficient and smart for the Knicks offense to click.
A third reason why the Knicks are slumping right now is the foul trouble their players are getting into. On Christmas Day against the Lakers the starting unit accounted for 15 fouls with a foul out by Tyson Chandler. The bench accounted for 10 more including four from J.R. Smith who plays starter minutes. Against the Bulls the Knicks once again had 25 team personal fouls and had another foul out, this time by Smith. These fouls make it hard on Woodson’s planned rotation and put the opposing team on the free throw line way too much. The Bulls and Lakers both got to the free-throw line 33 times.
A final reason why the Knicks have been losing is that they can’t contain the opponent’s team’s superstar. It’s very hard to stop Kobe Bryant but he once again torched the Knicks with 34 points on Christmas. Four other Lakers had double digit points, all with big names: Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, and Metta World Peace who dropped 20 on the Knicks. These players are going to get their points no matter what but the Knicks couldn’t stop any of them. Against the Bulls their star player Luol Deng scored 29 points. Jeremy Lin had 22 and James Harden added 28 when the Rockets handed the Knicks their first loss at the Garden this year. Carmelo always rises to the occasion but the Knicks can’t have superstars doing whatever they want to their defense if they want to go far in the playoffs.
The Knicks should be fine but they aren’t a perfect team. Their weaknesses are emerging and it will be Woodson’s job to fix them. The Knicks are in a prime position to succeed this season and there will be speed bumps along the way. You can’t judge any team until after the All-Star break and especially until Amar’e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert are fully in the rotation.