NYK Weekly Report: Defense is strong, Camby returns, Melo still Melo
My grade for the Knicks this past week is an "A-" - a dominant win on the road (76ers) paired with a ten-point win over a solid team (Mavericks). The only reason they got knocked down from an "A" was because of poor bench play against the Mavs. I don't really count JR Smith's performance as bench play, as he played 33 minutes to starter Jason Kidd's 15. Here are some key notes from the two games the Knicks played last week:
DEFENSE! I know the Knicks became a good defensive team over the course of last season, but I'm really just starting to grasp the fact that they're actually a suffocating defensive unit. I can't even remember the last time I saw the Knicks put any effort in on the defensive end. When I hear "Knicks' defense," I used to think back to Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley, but now I'm picturing Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd. The team is giving up only 87.5 points per game - best in the NBA. They allowed teams to shoot only 37.1% in last week's two games while averaging 9.5 steals per contest. When the defense is playing this well, the offense can play more relaxed and doesn't need to explode to win the game - something I'm not used to as a Knicks fan.
Marcus Camby made his season debut on Friday against the Mavs, playing only eight minutes, but hauling in four rebounds and scoring two points without taking a field goal attempt. He could end up being a big factor for the Knicks - who continue to struggle on the boards - as he gets in better shape and can play heavier minutes.
Carmelo Anthony continues to roll through the second week of the season. Whether he's taking 16 shots or 22 shots, he's making the most his opportunities to put points on the board. He was content with his 16 shots against the Sixers (only one more than Smith, three more than Felton), and put up the best +/- rating on the team. He had seven rebounds in both games last week (7.3 per game on the season), and averaged only 1.5 turnovers. He's been the games leading scorer in all four of the Knicks' wins, and I know it's way too early, but if the season ended today, Carmelo Anthony would be your scoring champion.
Other notes: The team shot 38.9% from three (down from their absurd 47.6% last week) and still got wins - a good sign... JR Smith - one of the streaker players in the NBA - was hot last week, averaging 19.5 points and shooting 5-7 from three... Outside of JR Smith, the bench went 4-14 from the field on Friday and no one had a positive +/- rating... The team struggled on the boards again, -17 over the two games... Pablo Prigioni has looked much better defensively (very pesky) than he did the first week... Prigioni played big minutes (25) for the first time last Monday, scoring 11 points with six assists and two steals... Kurt Thomas has struggled to knock down open mid-range jumpers, and was a healthy DNP on Friday... Rasheed Wallace may take on a bigger role than expected, as he played 14 minutes on Monday and 18 on Friday - his minutes have increased in each game so far.
This week's Knicks games: Tuesday @ ORL, Thursday @ SAS, Friday @ MEM, Sunday vs. IND.