Knicks drop 15 spots in defensive rating after recent struggles

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau coaches against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A large part of what has made the New York Knicks a formidable team in the NBA Eastern Conference has been their stout defense. After a recent string of losses, their defensive metrics have taken a major hit.

Can The Knicks Stop The Bleeding on Defense?

As Knicksmuse shared via Twitter, the Knicks have fallen from as high as No. 3 in defensive rating among all NBA teams to No. 18 in less than two weeks time:

The Knicks most recently had the Los Angeles Clippers even their season series and hand them a 144-122 loss yesterday. Dating back to the start of the 12-day stretch, the Knicks fell by 24 points to the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 5, and 11 points to the Boston Celtics three days later.

They also lost to the Utah Jazz after beating the Toronto Raptors a game prior. However, five of their last six opponents have scored 130 or more points.

The Knicks have missed the presence of defensive anchor Mitchell Robinson. They’ve also seen a decrease in productivity from Quentin Grimes, who was expected to be their primary on-ball defender against opposing teams’ best wing players.

In the selfsame stretch, they’ve allowed teams to score 54 points in the paint, good for tenth-worst among all teams, and without Robinson’s services on the glass, have conceded 16.8 second-chance points, which ranks No. 25 overall. While they’ve stifled teams on the outside, the Knicks are now allowing opposing offenses to shoot 37.7 percent from beyond the arc, and are half a percent away from bottom-five territory among all defenses.

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More Strong Competition Lies Ahead For a Knicks Team Trying to Maintain Without Mitchell Robinson

Reasonably, the Knicks have seen four teams with some of the best scorers in the league. The Bucks and Celtics sit as the two best teams in the East, each with MVP candidates and several 20-plus point-per-game scorers while the Clippers and Phoenix Suns have former scoring champions in their starting fives.

Nevertheless, the Knicks will need to turn things around should they expect to improve upon their 14-11 record until Robinson returns. They won’t catch a break in the short term, as their next matchup pits them against LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers before seeing the Bucks twice more and the sizzling Oklahoma City Thunder in four of their next five outings.