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It’s not all offense, the Knicks defense has taken step back, too

Mar 7, 2012, 6:15 PM EDT

New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler react to a call in the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden in Boston Reuters

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the Knicks offense and how they have faired trying to integrate Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire with Jeremy Lin (and throw in J.R. Smith to spice things up). It’s been inconsistent — some games Anthony seems to want to work off the ball, then there was the Dallas game where he stood around a lot on the wing.

But that’s only half the story.

While everyone was raving about Lin when he exploded on the scene the Knicks were quietly playing fantastic defense against a soft schedule — that was the fuel that allowed Linsanity to burn.

Since the return of the big names the Knicks defense hasn’t been bad, but it has returned to earth. Zach Lowe broke out all the numbers in a fantastic post at Sports Illustrated.

During (Jeremy Lin’s first) eight games, against that same weak schedule and with the same depleted roster, New York allowed 93.7 points per 100 possessions. That would be the stingiest mark in the league over the full season. In simple terms: The Knicks’ defense was the driving force of their success during Lin’s emergence…

The defense has allowed 99.6 points per 100 possessions since Carmelo’s return, a better-than-average mark that nonetheless constitutes a major drop-off from the stingy number (93.7) that they allowed with Lin/without Anthony. In the long run, it’s probably a good sign, or at least not a bad one, that New York has been slightly better than average on defense in a relatively tough six-game stretch while re-integrating two subpar defenders in Anthony and Stoudemire.

There are a lot of factors with what is going on with the Knicks. Teams are getting up for them and Lin in particular in a way the Knicks are just starting to adjust to. More importantly, they are facing a lot better teams now.

Then there is the defense — it’s good but not great like it was. So far the offense has not been able to make up that gap. If the Knicks ever get both ends of the floor going at the same time, they would be the third best team in the East. But right now, they can’t get there consistently.

  1. cakemixa - Mar 7, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    Will the national media ever admit to the ridiculous overreaction/hype to Jeremy Lin? The Knicks are a sub .500 team, who is only currently an 8th seed due to the east being terrible, aside from the top 2 teams.

    • savvybynature - Mar 7, 2012 at 8:58 PM

      That record was mostly “earned” before Lin was in their lineup, so the stats you throw out are mostly irrelevant.
      Guy was undrafted and is now averaging 15 and 6. Good player, great story.
      When will you admit to just being a hater?

      • LPad - Mar 8, 2012 at 9:42 AM

        You’re forgetting the 4 to 5 turnovers a game he’s averaging along with the 15 and 6. And that’s not including the 3 to 4 possessions a game where he throws a wild pass (after penetrating too deep, picking up his dribble 25 feet out, or jumping in the air with no where to go with the ball) that leads to a mad scramble where the Knicks end up chucking up an awful shot as shot clock expires.

        I’m a Knicks fan that watches all the games and I like Lin but he has been extremely turnover prone. He’s also awful defensively. Even the pregame crew said he would have a long night going against Parker. He didn’t guard him much, but everytime he did Parker owned him. Just like Calderon, Rondo, Deron Williams, and the Boureqouis (spelling) kid from Dallas did.

      • savvybynature - Mar 8, 2012 at 8:59 PM

        I said he was good, not a superstar. Asking the media to apologize is ridiculous. During the height of “Linsanity” (God I hate that term), dude was averaging over 20 points, 8 assists and his assist to turnover ratio was good enough for top 3 in the league. The guy was undrafted. Why should anyone apologize for being hyped about that? Yeah, competition was weak, but so what? You play who is on your schedule, that’s not a knock on Lin. Besides, no one can predict the future but many in the media DID say he likely couldn’t keep it up. To say he was overhyped or overrated is just revisionist history. He deserved it, and now he isn’t playing as well and he’s getting less attention. What’s the problem? Any complaining at this point is just hatin’ imo.

  2. stayhigh_247 - Mar 7, 2012 at 7:31 PM

    Philadelphia and Chicago are the stingiest defenses per game @ 87 & 88 ppg allowed, screw your per 100 possessions, thats creative jibberish. You’d have to go back to Van Gundy and Thibideau to find a good Knicks defensive team. When they hired Damphony they knew what they were getting and it’s not going to change. When they signed Melo they knew who they were getting, hence Tyson Chandler. But Tyson wont be enough and reality says that the only logical move is to get rid of the coach, because no gm in his right mind would trade J Linn or Melo.

    • david0303 - Mar 7, 2012 at 11:42 PM

      per 100 possessions isnt really creative jibberish because some teams happen to play alot faster and have more possessions per game than others. so teams that run like the knicks, will take and give up 10 more shots a game than other teams. they could hold teams to lower percentages, but because they give up more shots, theyll give up more points.

      new orleans gives up 93 points a game which is 9th best in the league, but they have one of the worst defenses. the only thing making them look good is that they walk the ball up court every play at the pace of a snail. pretty obvious common sence for most basketball fans

      • LPad - Mar 8, 2012 at 9:45 AM

        I don’t have a problem with a 100 possessions stat, but do you think Monty Williams really cares how many points they give up per 100 possessions, if they average less than 100 possessions a game.

  3. bknowledge - Mar 7, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    1 reason the Knicks defense is worse is court balance. Amare, Tyson, and Carmelo spend a lot of time on offense in or near the paint. They don’t get back fast on D. If the Knicks only have 2 players getting back on D, that is not enough to stop fast breaks and early offense.

    Knicks offense is suffering because of bad geometry:

    It is virtually impossible to have a successful/efficient offense without 3 players that shoot at least 40% from 20 feet and out.

    Knicks offense was good during the winning streak because it had good geometry.

    Knicks defense was good during the winning streak because our wings/forwards were focused on defense and made sure they had at least 3 guys getting back early on D.

    • khadeemw - Mar 8, 2012 at 12:25 AM

      thats one of the most wise post i have seen on this site…floor balance is an underrated aspect of d….especially when you have to guys like amare and melo who dont always hustle back after missed shots

      • LPad - Mar 8, 2012 at 9:49 AM

        Floor balance also hints at why D’Antoni teams in general are so bad on D. His offense has the point guard constantly penetrating, but has the wings spotting up for corner threes. Hard to get back if you’re point guard is picking himself off the ground after a make or miss and you have your wings below the free throw line extended.

  4. youallrfools - Mar 8, 2012 at 12:59 AM

    How about we all realize that the Knicks are a mediocre team at best and had a stretch against weak opponents where they won some games. Jeremy Lin is a great story, but is showing he isn’t a super star (at least yet). Marketers locked onto a story that they figured would make a few bucks because it was New York.

    To the guy who said GM would be crazy to trade Melo or Amare, you have it backwards. A GM would be crazy to trade FOR either of those cancers. Huge contracts who aren’t winners and have proven it over their careers. 30 ppg looks great on the stats sheet, but doesn’t tell the whole story.

  5. losangelasbasketball - Mar 8, 2012 at 2:36 AM

    New York needs to be looking to unload Dantoni. His role is to massage egos and make a good defensive team…. two things that he fails miserably at… and i disagree with getting rid of melo…

  6. isujames - Mar 8, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    the fact is that when melo was out the lineup and lin was in they were a better squad.

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