Knicks Need To Address Home Woes

[This does not include last night’s game against Detroit.]

The New York Knicks have entered a major home streak in their schedule. Of their next 11 games, 10 will be at Madison Square Garden. For most teams, being within the friendly confines of home is a boon to the team. When you think of home field advantage, your thoughts might be of 60,000 fans in snowy Soldier Field or the varying outfield dimensions in half a dozen baseball stadiums. But the NBA boasts a better home win percentage (about 60%) than either football (58%) or baseball (55%).

Yet for the Knicks, home is hardly where the heart is. New York has an abysmal 1-6 record at home, while boasting a respectable 5-5 record on the road. Presented to a reasonable person, the simple conclusion would be that the Knicks have faced tougher competition at home. Looking at the stats, this might seem to be true. The Knicks home opponents have averaged a .520 win%, while their road opponents average only .485.

However a closer inspection of the facts show that these numbers may not be the true reason of New York’s home mystery. If you exclude New York’s opening day victory over hapless Memphis, the Knicks road opponents average a more respectable .509. Additionally the Knicks have lost to two teams at home (Boston & Cleveland) that they beat on the road. So if strength of schedule isn’t the answer, what is causing the Knicks to perform worse at home?

Looking at the four factors for guidance, the problems become clear. On offense, the Knicks shooting percentage (46.5% eFG%) is significantly worse at home than on the road (50.6%). In fact New York has only bested their road average once in 7 tries at home. Ironically that’s the only area that is worse at the Garden. The Knicks turn the ball over less, get more of their misses, and accumulate more points from the free throw line at home.

Unfortunately you can’t say the same about the Knicks defense. New York is worse on defense at home in every single category: shooting, rebounding, turnovers, and free throws. Away from home, the Knicks defense averages 106.3 pts/100 possessions which is about where the Mavs/Nets are this year, nearly league average. But bring the same group home and the average dips to 111.2. That would place the Knicks home team among the defensive dregs of the league like Seattle and Milwaukee.

From this the keys to a Knick home exorcism is simple. First is to be patient when they have the ball. Just about everyone who has watched the Knicks on a regular basis would agree that they just look better when they stay within the frame of the offense. The Knicks should move the offense away from the guards and feature Curry (53.5% eFG%) and Richardson (53.9%) with David Lee (61%) cleaning up the scraps.

More importantly the Knicks need to bring home the defensive intensity that they’ve shown on the road. Oddly, enough the injury to Channing Frye may have helped the Knicks here. With David Lee in the starting lineup, Renaldo Balkman has seen more and more playing time coming off the bench. If Balkman isn’t the Knicks’ best defender, he certainly is their most tenacious. He’s earned the name “the Human Windmill” by the KnickerBlogger household for the way he swings his long arms on the defensive end. Additionally Isiah has turned to the zone to help the Knicks’ defensive woes. Although Zeke relies on the zone too often (last night Detroit feasted on the outside shot), it’s helps mask some of the Knick poorer defenders. But ultimately New York needs to give more effort on the defensive end.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

26 thoughts to “Knicks Need To Address Home Woes”

  1. I can’t wait until Jeffries returns to the starting lineup because this team has only 1 good defensive starter and that’s Q-Rich,and boy,oh,boy did his touch fade in that game against the Raptors! That team is so bad interior defense wise yet we couldn’t pull out the win because our scorers went cold in crunch time!UNBELIEVABLE!!! UNACCEPTABLE!!! When Jeffries returns there will be no 30pt. games by the likes of players like Bosh!!!His return should stabilize the starters.Then maybe we can send the bench players out on the court with a lead instead of a deficit!!!!!Balkman & Lee must come off the bench until there offensive games improve DRAMATICALLY!!!!!We have no hope of being a playoff team without Jeffries & Q-Rich together in the starting lineup!!!!!!Once Jeffries returns we shouldn’t lose to BAD TEAMS LIKE THE RAPTORS ANYMORE !!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I think I have discovered another reason why the Knicks players play so abysmally at home. It doesn’t have anything to do with statistics or any of the bang-up research you do here at this site, but I think I’ve hit something on the head. Hear me out.

    When you’re booed on the road as a professional athlete, it means you’re not welcome as an outside, and can be taken as a challenge.

    When you’re booed at your home arena as a professional athlete, it means no one likes you and that people just want you to go away forever because they hate you so much.

    So, the Knicks players feel bad when they play at home because they think no one appreciates their efforts.

    Now, I’m no sports psychologist, but if there were some way to trick the Knicks players into thinking the boos were not actually boos, but badly articulated cheers–similar to Mr. Smithers telling Mr. Burns the people were chanting “Boo-urns” at the Springfield Film Festival–I have a feeling our favorite team’s play will drastically improve at home.

  3. Cips: You might be right, but I’m going to go with the opposite psychology. That at home they are who they are. On the road is where psychology comes into play, and the team’s poor reputation creates a “us versus the world” mentality that bleeds over into aggressive play (especially on defense). Of course, I could be wrong and you right, or we could both be wrong and some other factor causes the difference. Could even be a simple coincidence. That’s the thing about psychology, you never get to find out if you’re right!

  4. I think Charlie Rosen said something about the Knicks’ having shoot-arounds at MSG in the late afternoon prior to games (as opposed to another practice facility in the morning) as being a terrible idea. This was a move implemented by Isiah in hopes of improving home court advantage, but perhaps it has encouraged late-night partying and sluggish play at the start of games instead. Maybe he was on to something with that?

  5. Stop making excuses. It’s not the fans booing. This team is awful. Some of the games we won, we should have lost. For example, Crawford throws the ball away, then he gets it back and makes a wild 3 pointer. Curry shows up one night, then doesn’t the next. Nate Robinson has a lot of attitude for a player that hasn’t done anything in this league. Stephon and Francis suck on the court together. Isiah blows, etc.

  6. Couldn’t agree more with you, Scott….These Knicks team’ PG is still ‘on the making’, means there’ll still more unpredictable games because we have no proven PG to control our team… Neither Sickburi or Frachsick plays more like CP3, or Billups….

    OH, Detroit fans were right, Isiah Thomas is the best PG at Knicks roster…

  7. I was at the game last night. I was given tickets right on the court. I was sitting across from the Knicks bench. It was an incredible seat.

    Fans were booing towards the end of the game. The Knicks were sloppy. It seemed to me the poor play was caused by a lack of a real point guard.

    They also seemed to be getting away from feeding the post. There was a lot of one on one play. When they did pass, they did too many of them. Guys were passing up good shots. David Lee has to take a 10 to 15 jumper to be effective.

    On defense, they left too many guys open. Toronto has guys who can nail the open jump shot. It seemed liked the Knicks were bouncing from zone to man to man. It did not seem coherent or to have any flow.

    Can they play better? Will getting rid of Isaiah matter? Can they get rid of most of the team and start over? What a mess.

  8. Losing to Toronto at home says a lot. I thought before the Detroit game we had a chance to go 2-2, MAYBE 3-1 in the next four, getting Detroit on the second night of a back-to-back then getting Toronto at home..Memphis and Washington. Doesn’t look good.

    The home thing is really weird – the booing certainly doesn’t help..but this type of record at home compared to the record on the road is weird and makes me think one is an aberration. Hopefully it’s the home record but I guess we will soon find out.

    Memphis, Washington, Milwaukee, Boston, Atlanta. I know it’s overly optimistic but 4-1 shouldn’t be out of the question (I’m not saying I think we’ll do it, but that should be the goal).

  9. i dont like the excuses either, home or away we dont have a pt. guard…can’t we get Earl Watson before Miami does?
    The backcourt is terrible, we should be showing some signs of coherency at this stage and we’re not. Last night T.J ford got to the rim whenever he wanted especially down the stretch and exposed our greatest weakness; something has to be done, unacceptable!

  10. How on Earth are we losing with Curry dominating the fourth quarter all of a sudden? We finally have a go-to guy out of nowhere (and he’s even rebounding better) and we still lose at home? I don’t know what we need at this point.

  11. Jeffries will be back by the 15th at the latest.

    As for the game – yeah, that was brutal. When the team is just awful, that’s one thing – but they weren’t awful, and they STILL lost. So annoying.

  12. Definitely will be interesting to see what Jeffries can bring to the table – but I am a little worried that we’re all sort of relying on Jared Jeffries to be the savior.

    And yeah it is sad to see us wasting all of these bigtime point performances by Curry – but the fact remains that he’s just worthless on the defensive end. And his missed free throws at the end of games seem to kill us.

  13. you guys sound like you expect more from this team. Isiah had a sh.tty salary cap situation before he signed his first guy. he’s had to break a lot of eggs to make a bigger omelet out of the old farts left behind by prior management. that should explain the mess the franchise is in. that being said, we have a lot of missing pieces. its obvious watching them lose at home that it has everything to do with confidence.
    if you have lived in the same house and walked out of the same front door for 10 years; you would feel confident doing it without thinking. Then if one day you open that door and someone shoots your face off yet you survive; I guarantee you wouldn’t want to open that front door anymore. You’d think twice about it, use the back door or move altogether.
    The Knicks suck at home because of confidence and there’s no one thats going to fix it. More wins will fix it. More leadership will fix it. Less boos will not fix it but it’ll help relieve the pain.
    Point is, we have a bunch of unproven babies on the court. Our veterans are not stars in the league and have either come from losing situations or have been role players(ie: losers: STARbury, Stevie FRANCHISE…role players Q Rich, Malik Rose) What we need is more experience for the young guys, a coach that will work for more than one year, Pat Ewing as an assistant coach and a more patient and quietly understanding fanbase.

  14. Thanks HBez. I thought it was safe to stop blaming Scott Layden for this mess, especially since the entire roster is devoid of any of his players. Quite honestly I think you’re beeing way too short-sighted. Scotty Stirling is certainly behind the current Knicks’ woes.

  15. I think we are all guilty of putting too much stock in Jared Jeffries’ return from his injury. First of all, I haven’t seen many of his games as a Wizard, but in the few I did, he didn’t stand out THAT much on defense. Second, he is just one player; defense is a team concept. The Knicks show all the attributes of poor defensive TEAM – inablility to keep the opposing point guard out of the paint, poor help defense, slow rotation, etc. Though Jeffries will improve the team defense, he is not the savior that we are making him out to be. He will not be guarding the T.J. Ford’s and Tony Parker’s, nor will he be defending the rim in place of Eddy Curry. He is just one player who has a decent reputation, but is not capable of turning around an entire unit.

  16. Thank you RKade. Exactly right and exactly what I was talking about. But I guess that’s what fans of struggling teams do – we grasp for straws.

    And you have to blame Isiah because he didn’t just let those “old eggs” fry up and be gone. He tried to go for the quick fix of just “cracking new eggs” and throwing them in there. It didn’t work, and now we have every right to blame him for this mess. (And yes, we all know how bad the situation he took over was, but that doesn’t exempt him from having to make it any better.)

  17. It’s one thing to make excuses, it’s another thing to come up with a possible hypothesis for why there is such a discrepency between the home and road records for the Knicks at this point. An explanation does not have to be an excuse. We may not like the idea that the Knicks might feel more tentative at home, but it may very well be part of the problem, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be construed as purely a knock on fans at MSG either.

    I think HBez’s comment on nervousness based on experience is quite valid. There is plenty of psycholigical research to suggest that this occurrs. The problem here is that it can’t be measured, or it would at least be VERY difficult to do so, and reasons to question the value of such information (like from say a survey of Knick players).

    The point HBez made about how NOTHING may be able to improve this confidence level, if the team does not suddely start winning, which may also be being interfered with by their own possible psycholigical problems as a team developed over the past few years, that many players may need to be off the team, especially the usual suspects like Isiah, Marbury & Francis (maybe) before we see changes.

    Then the argument for more easily observed problems on the court like the poor team defensive play from many players who the Knicks are relying upon to win games (Curry, Frye, Marbury, Crawford, Francis) causes even more problems, and then add in the lack of focus on the game plan where we see most of our guards rely one on one moves out of sync with the offense, or Curry seem to just flip the ball at the rim (although his FG % is still high and he’s since played better). How can we not, as Knick fans, be going crazy trying to figure out what the heck is going on.

    Hence the other connection to not just Layden, but Dolan and his policies. Knickerblogger, I find your blog to be a very interesting read and respect your insight, but I think that we cannot ignore the long term historical factors that have resulted in the current team. Sure, no players remain from Layden’s regieme, yet we need to ask the question, “Why was Isiah hired and what was the mandate from Dolan, regarding Isiah’s acceptance of the job as GM/Team President?” Isiah is to blame as well for the roster since he made it, yet why did we not “blow it up” or wait for the “dreck’s” contracts to just expire? Is that coming from a Dolan mandate to win and get playoff games at MSG and other forms of financial benefit that come with that? Isiah might have sold Dolan on remaking the team through trades and not having to get under the cap (although I don’t know if this is the case), but if this were the case then maybe Dolan was a little too eager to accept this as plausible. In fairness, some of the teams who had used the strategy of getting under the cap did not get the desired results at that time or for years (Bulls, Orlando) so maybe Dolan and Isiah weren’t wrong at the time either, as much as I cringe to say that.

    Isiah is certainly responsible for the roster, but not without the consent of Dolan who I believe has been the bigger problem as may have been Checketts and his trade of Ewing which started the Knicks downward spiral into cap hell, and possibly even Van Gundy for jumping ship after the first month (as some would argue). This problem is bigger than just Isiah, and history can demonstrate that this has been in development for years before Isiah showed up. If the Knicks had a different owner maybe things would be different. They don’t, so here we are, sadly enough.

  18. PrezIke…On Isiah/Dolan. I think most would agree (myself included) with you that Dolan is in fact the bigger problem. But I don’t see how that changes what Isiah has done. Whatever the plan was that Isiah sold Dolan on (obviously trading, draft picks, not worrying about the cap, etc) has clearly not worked. Yes, he got us to the playoffs by trading for Steph. And it was one of the most lopsided, embarassing playoff series I have ever had to watch (interestingly that team had the same problem this oen does – no interior defense whatsoever) – against the local New Jersey Nets to make it worse (Now believe me, I was happy as could be just to make the playoffs that year, but let’s not mistake it for more than it was). And since? We’ve been a joke. An absolute joke. So whatever the Isiah’s “plan” was, it has failed miserably.

    But yes, Amen to the problem being bigger than Isiah, and Amen to it starting with Dolan. But sitting right next to Dolan on the list of people to blame should be Isiah.

  19. Here’s a piece from Marc Berman…

    Jeff Van Gundy put Thomas in his place two weeks ago when he said he liked when the fans booed early because it motivated the team and made his job easier.

    Plus, there is no other arena louder than the Garden when the Knicks are staging a comeback ? this season or any season. If the Knicks cut the deficit from 20 to 10, it feels like a playoff game. And that?s not the case in most arenas.

    Because of the competition, the Knicks can run the table on this homestand and get to .500. Of course that won?t happen and when they go a mediocre 3-3, Thomas will surely find some other excuse as to why. Jared Jeffries should be back on this homestand, so I can already hear Isiah talk about the adjustment period needed.


  20. PrezIke – I would agree that Dolan is certainly part of the problem if for nothingless than allowing Isiah to take on all these long term contracts. HOWEVER I think that’s a far cry from saying that this current roster is the fault of the previous GM (Layden).

  21. Don’t put too much hope in Jeffries. Don’t get me wrong, I like him. He’ll give you speed, length and effort on the perimeter – a nice weapon against hot jump shooters. But no defense whatsoever in the middle where it is desperately needed (with the exception of an occasional block on the opponent’s fast break). And wait till you see him try to gather his limbs together to co-ordinate a shot. Watching him try to hoist a jumper in the lane is like watching the Greatest American Hero trying to fly. B-ball fans here in D.C. I’ve talked to think the problem with the Knicks is that there are too many wanna-be, former or just-shy-of being, stars. They’d trade Francis, Curry and Marlbury for a single, dependable, night-after-night zero head-trip all-star. No team goes far without at least two, and New York hasn’t had one since Allan Houston in his pre-injury days. Speaking of head trips, dump Isiaah, too. He bet everything to put together a roster it will take years to undo, and lost. He has done nothing but whine, complain, point fingers, act and speak in ways unbecoming of a real leader. The New York tradition is about pride, toughness and effort… who on the current roster exemplifies that anymore? All this talk about players needing confidence and the support of the home crowd? Knicks players play in the greatest city and undisputed b-ball city of the world for millions of dollars. They should be proud and put out a playoff-series effort every night or board a train for Memphis or Toronto.

  22. GFreeze, I’ve also seen JJ play here in the DC metro market and I saw him give more to the Wizards than you evidently did. But, what I did see was JJ shut LBJ for a entire half. When thay took him out of the game LBJ went nuts and put up 20 in the 2nd half.

    I agree JJ is not the answer alone, but he’s a good start. If you’ve seen JJ play you know he’s also a off the ball defender like Marcus Camby was. And Camby was our center, but couldn’t stop anyone one on one.

    With JJ in the line up we become very athletic and defensively stronger. I mentioned Camby because JJ and Camby are similar. They score by being active and aggressive on the board. Camby is capable of putting up bigger numbers, but JJ can ignite the fast break and guard atleast 3 positions. I’ve looked and looked butI don’t anyone on the Knicks able to do that.

    We’ll see what he’s capable of when he plays next week. I think once he get’s his legs under him he will make the Knick a more dangerous team. And this team was put togther with what was available under the circumstances.

    Laden left the org. with the likes of Howard Eisley, Shandon Anderson, traded Camby for McDyess, Tim Thomas and that group of overpaid underacheivers. No one believed that they could be traded for anyone of value. We may not be happy with the trade of overpaid player today, but when it was done Zeke was a genuis. Do I like all of his decision ofcourse not, but with what he had to work with, we upgraded at every position. I don’t think all of the players assembled can play togther and more trades have to be made, I think we have done well.

    And until we get that “night-after-night zero head-trip all-star”, which I don’t want to trade for, he should be developed this is the best as it get’s.

    Ok Kb know slam me for continuing the make reference to the Layden era.

  23. Isiah, not Layden, picked up Tim Thomas, acquiring him for Van Horn. Nazr went to the Knicks in that deal, too.

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