The Knicks scored 96 points against the Wizards on Wednesday night. The defensive effort that New York normally puts on display usually allows 96 points to be enough to come away with a win.
But the game in Washington was different, as the Knicks failed to get stops throughout the game. The Wizards have the recently returned John Wall to thank for the victorious effort, as the floor general seemed to be the latest to unearth what appears to be New York’s kryptonite.
Wall simply became the next in line in an ever-growing list of point guards to overwhelm the Knicks with speed and explosiveness.
He may have had six turnovers in the Wizards’ 106-96 victory over the Knicks, but one is certainly bound to have a few turnovers here and there if they’re running the floor and commanding the ball as much as Wall did. Also adding 21 points and 9 assists, Washington’s offense seemed to run through the point guard at all times.
But to say that the offense “ran” through Wall is simply an understatement. In Washington, the Knicks experienced an offense than seemed to otherwise “sprint” through the point guard all game long. The floor general’s speedy and flashy ways proved to be too much for the Knicks because as he continued to run and gun all night long, Wall was simply too much for the Knicks to keep up with.
Such a trend seems to be an ongoing one for New York. Whether it be Wall, the Hawks’ Jeff Teague, or the 76ers’ Jrue Holliday, opponents have run the Knicks ragged by allowing their point guards to run circles around the Big Apple team’s defense.
Anchored by a defensive wall in Tyson Chandler, the Knicks’ overall effort on defense has been one of the best in the league over the last two seasons now. In addition to allowing the first-time all-star to man the middle, Coach Mike Woodson has also worked with his team to help them better understand how to switch defensively and execute a zone-defense well if necessary.
This all said, there seems to be one thing the Knicks just can’t stop. Having also grabbed 5 rebounds in his team’s win on Wednesday, Wall could be seen crashing the boards, only to look up, go forth, and never look back. Wall’s speedy nature allowed him to run the length of the court and get to the other side at the blink of an eye. From there, it was easy for him to executive effective plays, whether they be to find the open man or take it to the hole. Whatever he went on to choose, there would be no Knick to stop him.
Without Raymond Felton for approximately a month recently, it’s been preached again and again how crucial having even just an average to above-average point guard on the floor really is for New York. Felton’s play gives the Knicks a boost and makes all the difference because his ability to run the floor paces the offense.
But does Felton have the ability to also pace the defense and keep opposing floor generals at bay as well? It doesn’t appear like it. In his older age, Jason Kidd no longer displays the ability to slow down fellow point guards, either.
And that’s how recent opponents have hit the Knicks hard, simply because they figure out New York hasn’t come up with the formula necessary to stop them. Pablo Prigioni’s quick and pestering ability to chase down the defender in the half way puts a lot of pressure on the opponent, and there’s no doubt by doing that in spurts off the bench, he could help turn the momentum in the Knicks’ favor if given more minutes.
But perhaps the trust in Prigioni just isn’t there yet. In that case, who does Coach Woodson trust to handle the burden of slowing down leaders of opponents’ offenses?
A worthy candidate would appear to be, Iman Shumpert, who’s in the past, taken pride in attempting to shut down the likes of Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, and Paul Pierce.
Granted, “The Rook” is more of a versatile player who now plays the three in the Knicks’ new and improved starting lineup. That said, depending on the matchup, Shumpert may be the only one to call upon in times of needing the slow down speedy point guards.
Shumpert’s obviously still recently coming back from a severe injury, but he’s been back for a few weeks now. If he’s going to command substantial minutes on the court each and every game, it has to be because he can execute and do what he does best. In the past, that’s been his ability to slow down (or shut down) an opponent’s best player. Before some of the Knicks’ tougher competitors start catching on, it’s worth it to begin making that switch defensively and allowing Shumpert to defend tougher floor generals before New York continues to get overwhelmed and show vulnerability.