I spent most of the morning and early afternoon toodlin' around Synergy and the NBA stats site looking for holes in the Knicks' defense (and there are many), but above any individual weaknesses or susceptibility to certain play types, there is a team-wide issue of uneven production throughout the game on that end. New York is an awful defensive team in first halves and a very good defensive team after Mike Woodson (I presume) terrifies them at halftime. John Schmeelk:
In first halves this year, the Knicks are the 28th-worst defensive team in the league if you go by points per 100 possessions. In the second half, their defense improves to 8th-best in the league. If you dig deeper, the Knicks are the No. 3 defensive team in the entire NBA in the fourth quarter. I somehow doubt Woodson’s defensive schemes change in the fourth quarter. The only explanation is that the Knicks are playing harder. Of course, the implication is that for the other three quarters, the team isn’t putting the effort necessary in on defense.
Some details pulled from the NBA stats site:
- New York allows 47.1% shooting on 41.7 field goal attempts per first half and 44% shooting on 37.5 field goal attempts per second half. Opponent three-point shooting drops from 38.2% to 36% in second halves on one more attempt.
- Defensive rebound percentage jumps from 72.5% in first halves to 76.5% in second halves.
- Opponent turnover rate jumps from 15.3% in first halves to 17.9% in second halves.
- The specific defensive rating numbers by quarter: 105.7, 107.6, 103.0, 95.1. They're suddenly elite in fourth quarters, like Schmeelk said.
- Probably related: Pace tends to be a couple possessions slower in second halves and particularly slow in fourth quarters. (Pace by quarter: 95.2, 93.9, 94.8, 90.6).
- A few individual first half/second half defensive rating splits:
Tyson Chandler: 107.6/101.7
Carmelo Anthony: 104.6/99.9
Jason Kidd: 112.6/99.0
J.R. Smith: 106.0/98.0
It's a thing. Defense is limiting shots and limiting accuracy on those shots, right? By turning teams over, contesting well, and cleaning up defensive rebounds, the Knicks are doing those two things in second halves. They are not doing those things in first halves. My call for pre-game halftime speeches stands.