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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Two Losses Exposes Two Knick Weaknesses

After starting off the season on the right foot with a win in Memphis, the Knicks have reverted back to their old ways. New York lost by 10 in Atlanta, and was embarrassed in their home opener with a 14 point loss against Indiana. Both times the Knicks had started off the 4th quarter within striking distance. Against the Hawks they were only down by 6, and against the Pacers Nate Robinson’s three pointer brought them within 1. Unfortunately the fourth quarter wasn’t kind to New York in either game, and now the Knicks are under .500 only 3 games into the season.

Just 3 days ago in my preseason preview I said:

The backcourt is undersized and the frontcourt doesn?t offer much help, which is a recipe for disaster.

And that’s exactly how the Hawks beat New York, by exposing their weak defense. Atlanta only made 4 of 14 from beyond the arc, but shot a dazzling 51% from 2 point range. The Hawks used their quickness to get past the Knick guards and there was no help from their teammates. Unlike the Memphis game, New York didn’t have a blocked shot from their big men. Only Jamal Crawford and Renaldo Balkman (in only 4 minutes) altered any Hawks shots. Not only did the Knick big men have problems with the Hawk’s guards and forwards, but center Zaza Pachulia used his speed in the paint to score 22 points.

A day later, the Pacers used another line from my preseason preview to defeat New York.

Between Marbury, Francis, and Jeffries the Knicks don?t have a reliable jump shooter to stretch defenses.

As I mentioned earlier, the Knicks started off the fourth quarter down by a single point. The Pacers went to a zone defense and the Knicks only managed 19 points in the final frame. Marbury & Crawford suffered the most, shooting a pathetic 3-18 (19% eFG). Indiana tried to funnel the Knick offense to Jermaine O’Neal who ended the game with 5 blocks. On the other hand when New York tried the same tactic on defense, Indiana moved the ball around until Harrington, Jackson, Armstrong, or Jasikevicius had a wide open shot. The Knicks allowed a healthy 8 of 19 from three point land to the Pacers, while only making 4 of 17.

So on consecutive nights, the Knicks lose in two different ways. The Hawks beat the Knicks’ defense on the inside, while the Pacers beat the Knicks’ offense from the outside. Isiah Thomas might be able to solve the Knicks defensive issues by giving more playing time to Kelvin Cato. Getting Jeffries back would certainly help as well, but until then Zeke might want to give Renaldo Balkman a closer look. Offense may be a tougher issue to solve. Getting Eddy Curry more touches could open up the offense, but ultimately Jamal Crawford has to stop shooting like Freddie Crawford.

14 comments on “Two Losses Exposes Two Knick Weaknesses

  1. Steve M.

    And what’s with the supposed new offensive system? The Quick Turnover? The Quick Charge? The Quick 3-Point Shot? Don’t trust any approach that claims to meld four different systems.

  2. Martha

    Two things:

    1)I agree with Steve. Often, the “new offense” looked a whole lot like the old offense, namely stand around and wait for the guy with the ball to go one-on-one or throw up a shitty shot.

    2)The second half defense was humiliating. I know Isiah’s approach seems to be all flowers and happiness, but if letting the opposition shoot 11-11 isn’t a time to call time out and rip some people, I don’t know what is.

  3. Josh

    I was at the game last night and there was nothing quite so deflating as when Isiah reinserted the loathsome Marbury at the 10:30 mark of the fourth. The team was showing life, as it always does when Robinson and Lee are on the court, but shows nothing but the grim veneer of an awful team when Marbury is on the court.

    Martha, there’s no better word for the defense than humiliating. Good work. Jeff Foster twice sailed through the lane for unopposed dunks, Curry does not have any presence inside and I believe it was O’Neal who drove right into his face and rolled a layup in over his head without so much as an unkind word.

  4. Alex

    I think Marbury spent too much time this offseason hawking his new clothing line and making talk show pilots. He’s smaller than he’s been since he’s been in the league. I don’t think he worked out at all in the weight room this summer. His arms are starting to lack definition and he’s not getting the same lift he used to get on his layups. I doubt he could even dunk at this point. No wonder he keeps getting his layups blocked.

    If Channing Frye jacks up another 3 pointer while he’s having trouble hitting twos, I’m gonna lose it.

    Curry’s too nice. He needs to start banging on the inside. All three games so far, he’s taking that weak baseline turnaround hook from 8 FEET AWAY!!! No real footwork or post move to speak of. He needs to start watching some olajuwan/garnett/duncan/robinson/ewing videos to learn some footwork and how to get position in the paint. He doesn’t work to get position. He kind of just goes to a spot and depends on the guards to manuever to get him the ball.

    I had such high hopes coming into this season.

  5. Seth

    I think part of Curry’s issue is that Marbury and Francis are miserable at getting him the ball in position. It always seems like he’s right under the basket for a few seconds, but is forced to pop out to 6-8 feet because the guards can’t find him. It doesn’t help that he can’t catch the ball.

  6. mase

    Borat says, “…I also had very high hopes for this season. Specifically Curry becoming the beast on the boards like in championships seasons with Bulls. Marbury is best pt. gaurd in N.B.A., I never realized it til last night, he was right.”

  7. KnickerBlogger Post author

    Seth – that’s very true. I counted at least 3 times in the Hawks game where Curry had the ball deep in the paint while a Knick guard dribbled the ball aimlessly. Curry had to popout, with the Knicks losing their easy scoring opportunity.

  8. cool hand

    I agree with what you are saying seth, marbury, francis, robinson, crawford etc. need to be able to find curry when he is right under the basket with 6-7 guys on him. a lot of times curry has that position, doesnt get the ball, and then gets called for three seconds.

    Defensively the 5 guards leave a lot to be desired. they rarely pressure full court, with the exception of nate. in fact in the first three games nate seems to be the only guard with any sense of purpose. against memphis he was the only knick able to slow down journeyman chucky atkins. chucky atkins? last night against the pacers he poked the ball away from al harrington, and got a jump ball with darrel armstrong which he tapped directly to steve francis, who was unable to handle it. he also poked another ball away, dove out of bounds for it, and slid half way down the court on his stomach. he didn’t come up with it, but it fired up the crowd, and some of the other knicks, namely david lee. it was about that time marbury came in and did his best impression of rick brunson.
    The point is the knicks only seem to get a strong effort from two or three guys at a time. what makes matters worse is that isiah insits on putting in marbury and/or francis when the energy players are getting the job done, which really messes things up. he needs to recognize the situations that call for the selfless team players, and the stuck up brats.

  9. Seth

    Hopefully the eventual debut of Jeffries will ease the defensive woes on the perimeter. For instance, if he were around last night, Richardson wouldn’t have had to be guarding Al Harrington. Jeffries would also be the guy to put on slashers like Lebron, Kobe, Wade, and…Chucky Atkins.

  10. Josh

    Seth, I think Jeffries will help on the perimeter but guys are going to penetrate the Knick lane all day and all night until either Frye or Curry show some guts and start banging some heads. If it’s not Jeffries’s guy it will be Marbury’s or Francis’s or Richardson’s. I enjoy Q’s work because he plays hard and knows his role but he’s not fast enough to guard 3’s and he knows it which is why, I think, he’s so physical.
    Curry mystifies me, he can be so strong offensively when he catches the ball down low but plays like a 5-foot nothing on defense.

  11. ugh

    i completely agree with your assessment. and cato’s gonna need some run for defensive reasons. but when?

    here’s something i propose: crawford and nate rob just aren’t gonna pass the ball into the post. they just are not. so, if that’s the case, and since at that point, curry’s not gonna add anything offensively along with his usual nothing on the boards and on D, well, why not cato then? he’ll at least supply those two – an added dimension on the court.

    it just blows me away how inconsequential curry is when they’re in the game. it’s all drive and dish without regard to the bug guy in the post. in fact, it’s frustrating. the team stagnates in the halfcourt when he’s not touching the ball.

    anyways, does anyone else feel that the best team the knicks could put on the floor (when all healthy) is marbury, richardson, jeffries, lee and curry?

  12. Kevin

    I would switch Francis and Marbury, but I say that with little conviction. After Chucky torched the Knicks for 25 a friend emailed me – “saying Marbury played matador defense denegrates the hard work of the bullfigher’s guild”

  13. JK47

    The Knicks certainly look pretty terrible so far. Frye in particular looks completely lost. Marbury looks shot.

    The Marbury-Francis backcourt has got to be the worst in the NBA. Steph can’t even score anymore and his attitude is just crap. He is an absolute siphon, possibly my least favorite Knick of all-time. This team will never be even halfway decent until that guy is off the roster. It’s sad but true. Now that his offense has gone in the crapper, he is pretty much entirely useless.

  14. KSX

    Josh said: “Jeff Foster twice sailed through the lane for unopposed dunks”
    Cutting right past Francis who didn’t even bother to raise his arm. Ridiculous bad defense.
    Not as much ridiculous, but close – several times I saw Curry get the ball far from the goal, well out of his comfort zone (as several noted) and yet he STILL tried to force a score. Why, god, please, can’t he pass it…just once? Or at least recognize his own range.
    Steve and Steph can’t possibly work together – both need the ball exclusively to be remotely successful as individuals, so only one at a time will ever be worth anything offensively and both are (mostly) jokes defensively. Is there a list or something I can sign to petition a trade of one, the other, or both?

    my favorite part of knick’s games so far is whenever anyone pass fakes before dribble driving. no one is ever going to go for that – i mean, unselfish knicks play?

    and does anyone think that Q-Rich is going to keep this up? (offensively, i mean – defensively we all know what he’s doing will continue)

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