By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
By my count, the Knicks gave up at least four uncontested layups to cutters in the first half. In a game they won by seven, you take those away and you are nearing a blowout win for the home team.
Boston won't beat you with guard penetration. In fact, they don't really even have guards that can handle the ball and attack against pressure. But what they can do is move off the ball --a product of playing with a ball-dominant point guard like Rondo for so long. They are used to playing a style in which they are frequently rewarded with pinpoint passes if they can find the holes in a defense.
The Knicks on Saturday welcomed back Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin to the fold after playing without them for the majority of the last few weeks of the season, and in the first half, the lack of continuity showed at times. Mike Woodson said after the game: "Our backside defense wasn't solid. We were pretty good on the strong side of the ball but our backside was afully weak so we went back and looked at that and I thought we adjusted there."
Indeed, they improved in the second half and it was probably the key to the win. Carrying this over to Game 2 could put the Celtics in a hole out of which they will have difficulty climbing.
J.R. said the team's mission coming out of halftime and going forward would be to "keep people out of the paint, make them shoot contested jumpers. Our guards have to come back and help." If you look at the best defenses in the league, they all have in common that they rarely let cutters get through the lane untouched. Nothing comes easy on the weakside, so when teams are able to reverse the ball, the defense is in position to adjust.
It'll take a collective effort going forward, but expect the Knicks to be more physical walling off the lane from the opening tip in Game 2.
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