By now, I don't need to tell you what went wrong on Thursday night against the Celtics, er, New York Knicks. We allowed the Knicks to hit a franchise-record 20 3-pointers with Toney Douglas doing what Toney Douglas do, hitting 9-of-12 threes. It was, for a lack of better terms, an ugly game. Not the entire game (hey, the 1st quarter was pretty good, right?), but mainly the second half we just had nothing positive to point to.
The larger picture here is more important than getting on the team for letting someone like Toney Douglas humiliate them. In the long-term IF we make the playoffs, we are going to get knocked out early thanks to our inability to guard the 3-point line. We allow 7.4 threes per game to our opponents, and when you consider the teams who are behind us in team defense from beyond the arc -- Cleveland and Minnesota -- it's not quite the company we want to keep.
Our friend thenightstallion noted in the game thread last night that if we have to matchup up against the San Antonio Spurs they will surely exploit our "pathetic three point defense." Great point. Add Dallas to the mix. Heck, add any of the top teams in the West -- better yet, add the Clippers. Add the Cavs. Who won't exploit our defense? Over the past five games, and of course this is elevated based on Thursday night's performance, but we've allowed our opponents to make 10.8 threes per game on 47.4% shooting from downtown. Going back 10 games we've allowed 9 threes per game on 43.9% shooting. Plain and simple, we can't defend the three. I think you get the point.
The issue here is not about losing to the Knicks in the mix of a playoff fight, it's about being taken seriously as a playoff team and not just another easy first-round out.
Our point guards are obviously not capable of playing defense -- Mike Conley, Greivis Vasquez and, well, Ish Smith are the main culprits. Such was the case when we saw Toney Douglas get open look after open look. It's ugly out there! And it doesn't look to be getting better anytime soon. I suppose that a healthy Rudy Gay helps defensively, especially when you allow Tony Allen to cut-off the passing lanes and cheat a little, knowing that Gay (and Shane Battier) are good help defenders. But it still won't help our defensive play from our points guards.Three-point defense is not going to walk through that door...!
Our strength is actually in cheating on defense, clogging the lanes and cutting off the passing lanes. But it also leaves us exposed when you have Conley switching on help beyond the arc. It's an instant mismatch.
Now, I know we won't face many teams going foward with the offensive chops that the Knicks have, but we will face much, much smarter teams -- think the Spurs in a first-round playoff matchup. They'll be licking their chops.
Defending the three is our Achilles Heel. Our "arc" enemy, if you will. Can it be corrected? After watching the Grizz play over the past few weeks, I see no daylight in our defense.
Let's just hope that, as the stallion says, we don't get the Spurs in the playoffs -- if we get there. Any chance we can play the Kings... or the Grizzlies? I hear Memphis can't shoot threes... I bet we could defend them!