Have the Knicks Turned the Corner?During the early portion of this season the New York Knicks seemed to have regressed even in comparison to how poorly they performed in recent seasons. The Knicks scored a lot of points but ranked at or near the bottom of the league in rebounding and in most key defensive categories. However, the Knicks have recently shown signs of improvement; their 7-3 record over the past 10 games is tied for second best in the Eastern Conference (trailing only the 8-2 Cleveland Cavaliers) and this surge has been powered not by offensive explosiveness (they rank just 15th in points scored during that 10 game run) but rather with the tried and true NBA winning formula of defense and rebounding: during the past 10 games the Knicks rank third in point differential, fourth in points allowed, eighth in rebounding differential and ninth in defensive field goal percentage. If nothing else, this at least suggests that even a roster of players largely bereft of strong individual defenders is capable of playing well defensively if properly motivated/instructed.
Has Knicks' Coach Mike D'Antoni finally recognized the importance of defense and rebounding and successfully communicated that message to his players? It is a bit too soon to reach that conclusion; five of those seven wins came at home and only one of the seven wins--an overtime victory against the slumping Atlanta Hawks--was against a team with a plus-.500 record. It remains to be seen if the Knicks' dedication to defense and rebounding is the start of a new trend or simply a statistical anomaly resulting from romping through a favorable portion of the schedule. The Knicks play four of their next five games on the road, so that stretch will provide a solid test for them.
posted by David Friedman @ 3:06 PM