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.