May 16, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler (6) argues a call with an official during the third quarter against the Indiana Pacers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at Madison Square Garden. Knicks won 85-75. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks need better defense to defend Atlantic Division title

There has been so much talk in recent weeks about the New York Knicks: their roster, their ability to shoot the three, Amare Stoudemire’s Health, Carmelo Anthony’s contract, the firing of Glen Grunwald, will Andrea Bargnani fit in or not, who will the starting five, is their enough talent to win? My answer is yes and no.

Last night I spoke with friend, Coach Michael Axelrod, a basketball aficionado, he discussed the Knicks LACK of DEFENSE.

May 18, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson on the sidelines against the Indiana Pacers in game six of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Woodson is the New York Knicks coach because of his defensive expertise.  A disciple of Bob Knight at Indiana, Woodson was brought in to assist then Coach Mike D’Antoni and bring defense to New York.  Well in his first full season as head coach, he actually failed.

The Knicks started the year great, for the first 10 games of the 2012-13 season, they ranked in the top 10 in the NBA in team defense.  Not bad and that was with a rested Jason Kidd.  Then they moved to the faster paced Western Conference teams, where the Jeremy Lin, James Harden led Houston Rockets torched the Knicks for 131 points to the  in Game No. 11, falling to 14th in the league.

They ran all over the Knicks slow backcourt and exposed Kidd.  He had the heart of a lion, but he had the legs of a 40 year old man.  Now one can say they had an off night, however the Knicks were never able to approach the top 10 in defense for the rest of the year, finishing 17th in defensive efficiency, a measure of points allowed per 100 possessions.

They must improve this year or we will be in for a long season.

Woodson wants to change that this year, saying Friday that he believes the Knicks should finish in the top 10 in 2013-14.  The top ten will not bring a championship to New York.  Metta World Peace, in jest challenged the coach and his teammates stating we needed to be in the top five.

So who finished where last year?

 

1 Indiana

92.8

16.1

14.3

30.3

74.6

52.9

47.9

52.1

101.6

96.6

2 Memphis

91.1

16.6

13.3

31.0

74.3

52.2

47.2

51.4

101.7

97.4

3 San Antonio

96.4

19.2

14.0

20.5

74.9

49.3

53.1

56.8

105.9

99.2

Oklahoma City

95.9

16.7

14.4

26.7

73.4

51.8

52.7

58.0

110.2

99.2

5 Chicago

92.0

17.9

13.6

29.4

73.6

51.2

47.0

51.2

100.4

100.3

6 Boston

94.0

18.0

14.1

20.1

73.3

47.5

50.3

54.2

101.1

100.4

7 Miami

93.0

18.5

13.7

22.2

73.0

49.0

55.2

58.8

110.3

100.5

8 Washington

94.4

16.9

14.2

24.6

74.6

49.4

47.6

51.2

97.8

100.6

9 LA Clippers

93.6

18.5

13.9

28.8

73.5

51.6

52.6

55.7

107.7

101.0

10 Atlanta

94.7

19.0

14.2

22.2

73.6

48.3

51.7

54.6

102.7

101.8

11 Denver

97.8

17.9

13.6

31.4

71.8

52.0

51.5

54.9

107.6

102.0

12 Milwaukee

97.3

17.1

12.7

27.9

71.3

48.8

47.6

51.0

100.9

102.3

13 Golden State

96.8

17.3

14.0

25.4

75.5

51.3

50.6

54.5

104.2

102.6

14 Minnesota

95.2

17.2

13.8

27.4

74.0

49.9

47.3

51.6

100.1

102.9

15 Philadelphia

93.3

17.9

12.5

24.9

73.4

48.4

48.1

50.9

99.5

103.0

16 Houston

98.6

17.4

14.9

26.4

75.2

51.0

52.5

56.4

106.7

103.5

New York

92.0

15.8

11.7

25.6

74.7

49.3

51.5

55.0

108.6

103.5

18 Brooklyn

91.2

16.2

14.0

30.9

73.7

52.2

49.8

53.6

105.0

103.6

(ESPN-Hollinger Team Statistics)

The scary thing is Chicago, Indiana, Boston, Miami, all finished ahead of New York last year.

Is it any wonder that Indiana was No. 1 in defense and took the Knicks out in the second round?

We must improve this year to make a run at the division title.  Defense wins games.  Woodson learned this at Indiana and Rick Pitino proved it again last year during his NCAA championship run.

The Knicks have the tools but do they have the heart.  Imagine a front line of Tyson Chandler, World Peace, and Kenyon Martin?  You won’t get much tougher than those three.

I would experiment with Carmelo to play an occasional two guard this year.  He proved he was not capable of defending top tier power forwards often last year.  To win a championship, Anthony must take a lesson from LeBron James’ playbook and play at both ends of the court.

‘Melo must defend for the Knicks to win. The same holds form for Ray Felton, he cannot let every point guard just whisk past him.  The Knicks won thirteen games in a row last year, not because of Felton playing the two guard, but having Pablo Prigioni at the point made a difference.

Defense wins games.  To compete in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks need to listen to World Peace and get our team in the top five when it comes to defensive efficiency.

Coach Woodson this is why you were brought to New York and this is what you know.

Now make the players accountable for their defense.  That is only way the Knicks will defend their division title.

Make sure to buy Knicks tickets to help the defense out at Madison Square Garden this season.  There’s no better motivator than a sell-out, rockin’ MSG!

Dr. Eric Kaplan is a Best Selling author www.drerickaplan.com

Tags: Carmelo Anthony Metta World Peace Mike Woodson NBA Offseason New York Knicks Tyson Chandler

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