Marc and Jay take a walk down memory lane and talk about their feelings going into each season for the last ten years. After that they answer a bunch of listener emails.
Heat, Mavs, Improvement?
The Knicks moved to 19-21 this season after an encouraging win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.
Prior to the Dallas game, the Knicks threw away what would’ve been a great confidence boosting win in Miami, who’s victory was largely predicated on their willingness to shoot threes, and the Knicks’ reluctance to do the same.
The 107-103 loss in overtime to the Heat was a reminder for Knicks fans that despite a
promising start to the season, there is room for improvement on multiple fronts for the
team going forward. Much has been made over the improved defense and effort that passes the eye test when watching the team, but statistically, the game-plans have to
improve if the Knicks want to reach even the 8th seed in the playoff race this year.
Miami attempted 42 threes on Friday, but the Knicks only managed 13 attempts – this
disparity further highlighted by the fact that the Knicks didn’t make a single 3 pointer until the 3rd quarter. Of course, attempting a low number of threes would be excusable if the team was having an off night – there’s no use chucking threes just for the sake of it. However, the Knicks hit 5 threes on Friday, shooting a good 38.5% as opposed to the Heat who shot 28.5% (12/42).
We all know that the Knicks have struggled mightily in defending the 3 point line this
season, in fact, it’s probably the most frustrating part of watching the team so far. Given that for the most part the effort on defense has been great, the Knicks’ players are doing themselves a disservice by giving them up.
A more detailed study of the Heat game, undertaken by reddit user /u/zounderk1te (1) , shows that the team suffers from multiple individual errors when on defense; this is compounded by the fact that the team has to constantly help on defense to contain opposition players who are allowed to drive to the rim far too easily.
Despite KP’s recent ‘tired’ comments, there is a real case for him moving to the 5 once he can hang physically with NBA big men down low. KP frequently doesn’t contest 3 pointers when guarding stretch 4’s, and there’s no doubt he’s best defensively as a rim protector, closer to the basket.
Anyone who has watched the Knicks this year will tell you that the team appears to flat out refuse to box out sometimes, instead ball watching and allowing easy offensive rebounds as well as long rebounds which lead to easy threes for the other team. Truthfully, it’s hard to say whether this is solely a coaching issue, or because of the inexperience of the team’s young players, but regardless it’s killing the Knicks especially down the stretch in close games.
Will the Knicks make the post season?
The Mecca has been rocking of late with some impressive Knick performances, even the heart breaking come back loss handed to them by Cleveland was great to watch. Porzingis’s down tick in shooting percentage has gone unnoticed with Tim Hardaway Jr coming out party, highlighted by the dagger three at the end of the Utah game on Wednesday, a week after scoring 38 points against Toronto at MSG. Production from other role plays has also been important in jumping out to a good start. Lee, O’Quinn, Jack and Thomas have all been better than expectations at the beginning of the season.
So, what’s next for this gritty new Knicks team? In this unpredictable Eastern conference, it is too easy to fantasize about playoff basketball, and the Knicks will have to continue to improve to make it there.
The triangle is out of sight and out of mind. Horneck has been given full control of the
offense and now the offense is going to run. Unsurprisingly (given the Knicks personnel) they have managed to create an identity as a team that can run in transition, ranking in the top 10 in points added through transition (per 100 possessions). Getting out in transition is one thing but the Knicks have also remained efficient ranking 7th in transition points scored (per 100 transition plays), and 12th at finishing at the rim.
The numbers illustrate how the Knicks are trying to play, however to be successful against the better teams they will need to emphasis transition opportunities more often. We have seen New York resort to iso situations even off a steal, which slows the offense down and lets the opposing defense set up.
Another warning sign that the offense maybe struggling more than it seems is the inability to turn steals into transition points. So far, this year the Knicks rank 27th in transition points added through steals. This combined with the efficiency or lack of the Knicks are showing in transition is a worrying sign for the 10-7 New York squad.
Defensively, the Knicks have been dramatically up and down. Just over a week ago Kyle
Korver highlighted the main blundering point, defending the three-point line. This weakness was also taken advantage of by the tanking Hawks. The Knicks are one of the worst teams in the league at defending the three-point line, especially from the corners. In a three-point shooting league the team will struggle to make it to the post season without improving their close out defense. Otherwise we may start to see even more games get away from the Knicks like we saw against, Toronto (at Air Canada), Cleveland, and Atlanta.
The Knicks can’t rely on Kristaps through 82 games.
Versus both the Clippers and Raptors this week the Knicks have taken some further baby steps towards consistency. Even more encouraging for the blue and orange is Tim Hardaway Jr’s performances. Offensively the shooting guard has grown into his roll, taking less contested 3-pointers and getting to and finishing at the rim. Hardaway Jr’s performances have meant the Knicks have pulled out wins without completely relying on KP. As the season continues Timmy’s offense will become even more important, and he has to stay aggressive in attacking the rim if the Knicks are serious about staying over .500.
Unbelievably, THJ’s defense has also been worth writing about. Defensively, Hardaway has become more like his team mate Courtney Lee instead of 2015-16 James Harden. Once-upon-a- time, the young shooting guard would reach constantly, and become a turn table when confronted with a driving opponent. Nowadays, NY’s number 3 is moving his feet, muscling over screens, and stealing the ball from lackadaisical ball handlers. Hardaway Jr will never transform into Tony Allen, but if he can remain average on the defensive end the Knicks become a much better team.
Nothing illustrated the Knicks defensive improvements more than the third quarter on
Wednesday night vs division rivals Toronto.
However, the defensive effort has to be there for the Knicks 8/10 games if they want to hold on to one of those magical playoff seeds.
So, can the Knicks finally make a playoff run?
That’s to be decided, but they are making progress.