All season, despite the media narrative of the Knicks being a defense oriented team, New York’s elite offense has been the catalyst for it’s success. The Knicks score 108.2 points per 100 possessions, a mark that ranks third in the NBA behind only Miami and Oklahoma City. However, the defense has been woefully average all season. New York gives up 103.1 points per 100 possessions, good for 16th in the league behind Minnesota, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Golden State.
On Wednesday night’s Knicks-Hawks ESPN broadcast, the insufferable Jon Barry said something that spurred me to go look at the stats. He incorrectly spoke about how the Knicks defense has been the difference during the winning streak. Having watched the games, I didn’t think the Knicks were that much better defensively. They’ve had a few great performances (Utah, Boston) and a few not so great performances (Memphis, Charlotte). As I figured, and par the usual, Barry was completely wrong.
During the Knicks 10 game winning streak, they’ve defended only slightly better than they have all season. They’ve given up 102 points per 100 possessions, a 1.1 point increase over their seasonal average. That mark ranks 8th in the league among all teams over the last 10 games, but would put the Knicks as the 11th best defense in the NBA if prorated over the entire season. It’s a slight upgrade, but it’s not like they’ve gone from average to elite in a ten game stretch.
The real difference has been that the Knicks offense has been blowing teams out of the water. Over the last ten games, the Knicks are scoring a whopping 116.9 points per 100 possessions, ranking first in the league in this stretch. Not only has Carmelo Anthony found his stroke offensively, but the team as a whole has been much more efficient shooting the ball. New York has been a good three point shooting team all season, but they’ve been even better during the streak. Reminiscent of the early season 18-5 team, the Knicks are shooting 41.7% from beyond the arc on 25 attempts per game. Look at some of the ridiculous shooting percentages the team is posting:
The only worrisome percentage there is Kidd, who has regressed badly to the mean after his hot start. With the playoffs coming up, it’d be nice to see him start to re-find his early season shooting stroke. It’s great to see Shumpert shooting the ball well, especially from the corners. Since March 1st, the second year guard is shooting 48.3% from downtown, including a whopping 62.5% from the corners. Earlier in the season, the Knicks offense started to sputter because Ronnie Brewer’s shooting fell off a cliff, making him unplayable and killing the offense. Shumpert has filled in nicely as a spot up three shooter from the corner and the offense is killing the opposition in large part to his efficiency from there.
During the 10 game winning streak, the Knicks defense has been better, but it’s not the biggest reason they’re winning. As has been the case all season, New York’s offense has led the way and is currently hitting on all cylinders. They’re shooting the ball well and now Anthony has it going at a ridiculous level. It’s been fun to watch and it’s encouraging to see the team playing like this with the playoffs right around the corner.
Follow Taylor on Twitter @tarmosino