The New York Knicks have officially hit rock bottom with tonight’s loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Knicks were on a nine-game losing streak before beating the Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic last week. New York looked inspired on defense and in rhythm on offense. However, after a 41-point loss at home to the Boston Celtics on Sunday and a loss tonight to the Cavs, it does not seem things can get much worse for the Knicks.
The Knickerbockers’ primary struggle comes on the offensive side of the basketball. As could be seen tonight, coach Mike Woodson‘s team has found it extremely difficult to score the ball. The solution to this problem is increased ball movement. In last week’s two wins against the Nets and Magic, the Knicks averaged 24.5 assists. In tonight’s loss, and Sunday’s enormous loss to the Celtics, New York averaged only 20 assists (27 tonight, 13 Sunday). This is the same problem that plagued coach Woodson’s Atlanta Hawks‘ teams. Too often does a player, usually Carmelo Anthony, get the ball and go one-on-one with a defender. It didn’t work in Atlanta, and it certainly is not working in the Garden.
In order for the Knicks to be successful, they must incorporate the pick-and-roll more often. Raymond Felton has successfully run a pick-and-roll offense since his time at the University of North Carolina. During the 2010-11 season, Felton and Amare Stoudemire were almost unstoppable while running the two-man game. Felton averaged 17.1 points and nine assists per game, while Stoudemire averaged 25.3 points per game. With Anthony on the wing as an additional option out of the pick-and-roll, this offense should be that much more effective. Ball movement is key for the Knicks. One-on-one will not cut it in the NBA.
The struggles do not stop on offense for the Knicks. Tonight, and too often this season, the Knicks look uninspired and outmatched on the defensive side of the ball. Although former Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler has been injured for the majority of the season, there is no excuse for the Knicks lack of effort and inability on defense. Felton’s injuries have slowed the point guard, making him a less-than-stellar defender. Opposing guards have gashed the Knicks early on this season, as Kyrie Irving did tonight (37 points, 11 assists). Players who have in the past made their living on defense, such as Iman Shumpert and Metta World Peace, need to get back to locking down shooters. With little defensive presence in the post, the Knicks’ perimeter defenders need to step it up.
The Knicks are now 5-15 after tonight’s 109-94 loss to the Cavs. New York has now lost two in a row by large margins after seemingly righting the ship early last week. A multitude of issues on both sides of the ball currently make the Knicks one of the worst teams in the NBA. New York has hit rock bottom. Something needs to change quickly before this season comes to a premature end.