Photo: Getty Images/Al Bello
Despite the naysayers, the New York Knicks have clearly received a desperately needed jolt under interim head coach Mike Woodson.New York is 6-1 since the coaching change, with the most astonishing part being how well their defence has played during that stretch.
The Knicks have held their opponents under 90 points in five of the seven games.
This comes as a shock to many, considering how allergic-to-defence the two have looked throughout their careers.
There’s a small problem with this narrative, though.
New York has played some AWFUL offensive teams since Woodson took over and the “I don’t like defence” twosome supposedly stepped up its game.
The Knicks have played the Portland Trailblazers, Indiana Pacers (twice), Toronto Raptors (twice), Detroit Pistons, and Philadelphia 76ers during those seven games.
ALL five of these teams rank in the bottom half of the NBA in points per game. With four of the five also ranked in the bottom half of the league in field goal percentage.
Just because they’ve faced terrible teams doesn’t mean the Knicks, namely Carmelo and Amar’e, aren’t putting forth a better effort on defence, however.
Statistically speaking the two stars have been playing much better on that side of the ball.
As far as defensive efficiency rating goes (points allowed per 100 possessions), Carmelo and Amar’e have impressed, producing average per game ratings of 95.3 and 95.1, respectively. (We understand taking the per game average of a metric extrapolated to 100 possessions every single game skews the numbers a bit, but it keeps things simple.)
Carmelo’s best games have come against Portland, Toronto (2 games), and Detroit when he had individual game defensive ratings of 89, 93, 91, and 92. Same goes for Amar’e, who put up 85, 97, 96, and 88 numbers in those same four games.
Unfortunately, this maximum effort from the two stars came versus three of the most inefficient offensive teams in the NBA. Portland, Toronto, and Detroit rank 16th, 26th, and 29th in offensive efficiency ratings, respectively.
So what does all of this statistical mumbo jumbo mean?
Carmelo, Amar’e, and the Knicks as a whole are playing much better defence, but it has WAY more to do with their opponents woeful offence than this supposed increased effort.
The Knicks are merely beating teams they’re supposed to be beating, with the defence of Carmelo and Amar’e providing a big lift. Both of their careers have shown there’s little chance this will last through a tough stretch of games, though.
How quickly could this come to a crashing end?
New York has a total of four games against the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls — among the 10 most efficient offensive teams in the NBA — coming up over the next two weeks.
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