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The Knicks struggled against the Wizards' pressure defense

The Knicks are running the Triangle offense, but because it's early and they are both novice and short-handed, they tend to lean too hard on certain basic actions. The foremost of those is the second option-- the pass to the lagging off-guard that initiates two-man action the weak side. The Wizards, like many smart and aggressive teams will, did their best to stop that. Bullets Forever has a great post on Washington's defense Tuesday night, including the second-option denial. Here's more:


You can see the triangle forming with Larkin headed to the corner. Amar'e Stoudemire, in the typical small forward's station, can't feed Iman Shumpert to initiate the two-man game with Carmelo Anthony because Shump's being overplayed. Being a practical fellow, Amar'e simply dribbled the ball over to Melo, which would be an interesting action if it were planned well, but wasn't exactly the prescribed way to run things here.

So, how do you beat that? It'd be nice if the Knicks could be more confident in the strong-side triangle and execute one of those passes to the post or corner. The way the Knicks' personnel stack up, though, the weak side often presents the best opportunities. One way to get the ball over there is to use a pin-down screen to establish the second option:


This requires some pre-planning. Melo-- acting as the two-guard here-- has to defy the Triangle's "lag principle" and bust ass down court instead of flanking Shane Larkin as he brings the ball up. But if you do that and get a good screen, you can probably get a clean pass up top and start the weak-side action.

The Triangle's favorite way to beat weak-side pressure is the blind pig, something we looked at in preseason. Here, via that BF post, is a look at the Wizards shutting it off:

The timing there isn't ideal-- and that's not a bad Tim Hardaway Jr. shot if he doesn't rush it-- but Otto Porter also did a great job closing things off.

Here's what it looks like when it works:

Here's what it looks like when the Knicks are sissy babies missing their best passer:

That's a sloppy pig, but Larkin had J.R. there and didn't make the pass.

In summary: Teams have already demonstrated how you can stifle the Knicks by applying pressure to their favorite Triangle option. Part of that is because they're still learning, part of that is because they are absent Jose Calderon's entry-passing prowess, and part of that is because opponents are good at defense sometimes.

For what it's worth, the Knicks all get what's going on:

The Knicks have no time to practice the rest of the week, so it'll be interesting to see how they respond if teams continue to over play them.