On Saturday night, the Knicks allowed a record-breaking 27 three-pointers in a 133-118 loss to the Boston Celtics. While it may be easy to write that off as a daunting loss to one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, it would be overlooking the major flaw the Celtics uncovered that could have derailed the Knicks this season. .
New York is poor at defending a three-point shot.
After that first pre-season win over the Pistons, I mentioned that Detroit was getting a lot of open forms from three that just weren’t falling. Against the Cavs, the Knicks allowed 23 threes on 50 attempts and head coach Tom Thibodeau noted that the Knicks needed to close better and fight through the screen.
Then last week, in the Knicks’ fall against the Hawks, I mentioned that the Hawks were simply missing out on their shots during New York’s first half.
I think the issues with New York’s perimeter defense are finally coming home.
As of Monday afternoon, the Knicks are 13th in the NBA in three-point percentages, with a allowed 35.4%. However, they last in the league against 14.9 three-pointers. Teams are shooting an average of 42.1 threes per game against the Knicks, which is 3.5 more than Minnesota, who are the next worst.
It’s clear that the teams know how to attack this New York defense.
However, it’s not just that the Knicks are giving away lots of threes, it’s also that these three-point shots are wide-open.
New York currently gives up Second widest open three point shot, which means without a guard within six feet. Opponents are wide open on 39.6% of their three-point shots against the Knicks. This is serious and can only be attributed to poor execution or poor strategy in defense of all three.
There are a few major ways nicks are burning that need to be fixed.
The first is that New York has a tendency to over-support on defense. On several occasions people like Obi Toppin on Evan Fournier get away with their man if he’s alone on the wing, choosing instead to stay close to the paint to protect against the drive.
However, when the ball is swung or kicked out after being hit quickly, the Knicks are late to counter the shot, leading to a lot of good looks from deep. Some authors call this the “pack the paint” strategy.But whatever you want to label it, it’s not working and Nix needs to change gears.
The next issue for New York is the struggle against pick-n-roll, which has become a staple in modern NBA offenses. The Knicks are terrible at defending it right now and one of the primary culprits is Julius Randall. In this clip from the Hawks game, you can see how much space he gives to a shooter like Trey Young.
When people say Randall Drop is bad at PNR coverage, this is what they mean. Look how much space he gives to Trai here. Can’t give it the whole night. pic.twitter.com/K3dKkUDjAH
— Tom Piccolo (@Tom_Piccolo) 2 November 2022
The same thing happened against the Cavaliers. Randall, and the others, went too far off the screen and Kevin Love shot big. Against Celtics, According to Fred Katzo“Boston attacked Randall with screens all night, including actions defending a pick after 17 3s. The Celtics made 10 of them.”
It’s a major issue that needs to be fixed, especially since even Julius Randall’s appearance on the court is preventing New York from playing Obi Toppin key minutes.
Toppin seems to be in the middle of breakout season, only he can’t find the minutes to prove it. In the last five games he plays 20+ minutes, New York is 4-1 and he’s shooting 25.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 50% of the three after all the off-season work put on his shot.
However, playing him and Randall together on the court has proved to be a struggle defensively, unless New York is playing an undersized team, as they did without Joel Embiid against the 76ers. If Randall’s presence on the court is going to limit Toppin’s minutes, then Randall will need to strengthen his defense against pick’n’rolls and three-point shots as this is becoming a real liability.
With a winnable stretch of games to come against the Timberwolves, Nets, Pistons and Thunder, head coach Tom Thibodeau will need to go back to the drawing board on his defensive strategy for three-point shots and also think about the lineup. who could help New York maximize its perimeter defense.
Because if they don’t, they won’t be a competitive team this season.