Despite a string of sloppy play, the New York Knicks appear to have turned things around as of late, winning five of their past six games.
However while the turnovers have been increasing at an alarming rate, there is another issue just as alarming, one that could prove costly in a seven-game series- defending the oppositions point guards.
When the season began, the first word out of every single player and coaches mouths was defense. Well that hasn’t exactly been the case even though the Knicks are ninth in the NBA in scoring defense, allowing 96.0 points per game. However a better telling sign would be the fact that the Knicks are only 15th in the league in defensive efficiency, allowing 103.0 points per 100 possessions.
That’s not good and a big reason for that has to be the Knicks point guards.
The ability to defend the perimeter has certainly been an issue this season for the Knicks, but an even bigger problem has been the Knicks point guards inability to contain opposing point guards.
In Wednesday’s victory over the Detroit Pistons, Jose Calderon became just the latest in a long string of opposing point guards to torch the Knicks with a 10 point, 16 assist effort.
It has become the Knicks biggest problem defensively.
Just look at what opposing point guards have done to the Knicks this season:
PPG- 22.1 points per game (29th in NBA)
APG- 7.8 assists per game (fourth)
RPG- 4.9 rebounds per game (22nd)
FG%- 46.9 percent from the floor (last)
3-PT%- 39.5 percent from behind the arc (29th)
PER- 22.8 (2nd)
That alone illustrates that opposing point guards are feasting on the Knicks. The only good sign there is that they are only dishing out 7.8 assists per game, but that number is low because they are scoring at will. as much as Raymond Felton means to the Knicks offense, he is not defending well to say the least. It’s not just him though as you have to throw Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni in there when they spell Felton.
Prigioni does defend rather well most of the time, so I would hate to see how much worse the numbers would be without the 14.4 minutes that Prigioni plays per night.
Things have even been worse as of late.
In the last five games, in which they faced the likes of Calderon, Kyrie Irving, Mario Chalmers, John Wall and Stephen Curry, the Knicks are hands down the worst in the NBA.
Those five point guards (and their backups) have combined to average 28.4 PPG (last), while shooting a ridiculous 52 percent (last) from the floor and an even worse 54.8 percent (last) from behind the arc.
Of course that stretch included Curry’s super human performance at the Garden, but it is still a problem nonetheless.
Let’s take it back to the past 10 games.
Add in the likes of Jrue Holiday, Kyle Lowry (twice), Chris Paul and George Hill and during the past 10 games and the Knicks have allowed 26.6 points per game (next to last) from the point guard position, while allowing them to shoot a combined 52.7 percent (last) from the floor and 52.3 percent (last) from behind the arc.
If that isn’t a major problem, then I don’t know what is.
The bottom line is that it is something that needs addressed and must be fixed before the playoffs begin.
If the playoffs started today, the list of opposing point guards would read: Brandon Jennings, Avery Bradley, Derrick Rose, Jeff Teague, Deron Williams, Hill and Chalmers.
Most of those guys on that list can do some major damage throughout the course of a playoff series.
If the Knicks can’t figure out how to defend the guy with the ball in his hands, it will be hard to envision them making a lengthy postseason run.
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