The Knicks have won their last two contests, and have snuck into 7th place in the Eastern Conference standings. This chain of events might have coaxed Knick fans who were on the ledge back into safety. But what do these recent games say about the team? To do so I’ll compare the Knicks stats from prior to this win streak to today. I’ll concentrate with team stats, since they are the most insightful.
The good news is that the New York offense has jumped up to the 8th spot from the 18th. Although the Knicks have improved in each of the four factors, the biggest improvement has come in free throw shooting. Getting to the line is now a Knick forte, with the 3rd best rate in the league. Although Amar’e (8.2 fta/36) and Gallinari (7.5 fta/36) power the franchise, Wilson Chandler has made the most significant strides (3.4 to 4.0 fta/36).
On the other hand, the defense has declined as New York now ranks 24th, down 4 spots from prior to the win streak and 13 spots from less than a week ago. Defense appeared to be a Knick strength, but now has become a liability. The only factor that dramatically dropped was opponent shooting percentage, which is now the fifth worst in the league behind the Kings, Wizards, Suns, and Clippers. The knee-jerk answer is that Turiaf’s injury has made New York worse on defense. However Ronny came back on the 16th, a day after the Knicks were ranked 11th. Additionally he’s started in the last 3 games, so it’s hard to explain the defensive decline on his absence. The better explanation is that the team overall hasn’t done a good job in preventing opponents from getting good looks at the rim. The strength of the Knick defense is in making opponents cough up the ball, as New York ranks 11th in forcing turnovers.