New York Knicks Are Finally Stepping Up On Defense

After months of dreadful results and painful inconsistency, the New York Knicks are finally beginning to step up on the defensive end of the floor.

It’s only been two games, but the New York Knicks have provided fans with a rare reason for optimism. After months of inconsistency, New York appears to have committed to defending at a high level.

Following back-to-back stellar showings on defense, the Knicks have even given the head coach a reason to be encouraged.

New York turned heads when it took the 36-25 Toronto Raptors down to the wire in a 92-91 defeat. Two days later, it was dominant defensively once again in a 101-90 road victory over the Orlando Magic.

According to Rebecca Haarlow of MSG Network, head coach Jeff Hornacek praised his team for, “Really picking up defensively.”

“We’re probably still trying to figure out how that we can play that hard defense and still have energy on the offensive end. Our guys are probably a little tired because they’re playing such hard defense, and that effects you a little on the offensive end in the second half. It’s just a matter of getting that mentality to play that hard defense, use your energy there, but still have some for the offensive end.”

New York’s offense sputtered in the second half of the Orlando and Toronto games, but it’s been the result of the energy put forth on defense—a forgivable result and reason.

New York ranks No. 25 in the NBA in both points allowed per 100 possessions and points allowed per game. Though it’s just a two-game sample size, the clashes with Orlando and Toronto were quite encouraging.

New York will need to defend at a high level for more than just two games, but every turnaround has to start somewhere.

The key to turning this hot stretch into the working expectation is what Hornacek alluded to: prioritizing defense. New York has a number of capable defenders, but Kristaps Porzingis singled out the team’s biggest issue: the players were in it for themselves.

Every player wants to score, but the Knicks must focus on defense before concerning themselves with offense.

That may lead to exhaustion and an inability to execute in an ideal manner on offense, but that’s forgivable. It’s far easier to win a low-scoring game when the offense is inefficient than it is to win a high-scoring game with no defensive rhythm.

The proof is in the fact that New York is 10-2 when it allows 100 points or less, 17-7 when it allows less than 105 points, and 8-29 when it allows 105 points or more.

Defense will be the key to a turnaround. Fortunately, Jeff Hornacek and the New York Knicks are embracing the need to defend.