The New York Knicks completed their first winning streak of three games or more in over a month with a 121-102 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.
The catalyst to their recent hot stretch has been their incredibly improved perimeter defense, thanks to a rotation change by head coach Tom Thibodeau that saw Miles McBride enter the rotation and Derrick Rose and Cam Reddish exit.
The strong perimeter defense continued on Friday against Charlotte, as the Knicks held the Hornets to just 23.1% from beyond the arc. When combining Friday’s game with their previous two victories, New York has held opponents to 20-for-97 (20.6%) from 3-point range, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic.
Before December 4th, the Knicks allowed their opponents to shoot 35.5% from 3 and also led the NBA in opponent 3PA/game.
Even though New York still leads the league in opponent 3PA/game overall this season at 1,006, they’ve allowed much fewer attempts during their winning streak, which is a good sign for the Knicks going forward.
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The Knicks’ defense is stepping up big:
The Knicks have held their opponents to under 100 points twice in their last three games as well, something they had yet to do prior to the start of the winning streak, which started with a 92-81 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers this past Sunday.
Thibodeau elaborated on why he thinks the change to add more defense was necessary after their blowout victory over the Atlanta Hawks this past Wednesday.
“Every night there’s going to be guys on the perimeter that are very difficult to guard. So the better we guard the ball, the better that makes us.”Tom Thibodeau via New York Post
The main component to their defensive prowess has been second-year wing, Quentin Grimes. Entering Friday’s game, he had held opponents to just 23.3% on 3-pointers this season, according to the NBA’s player tracking data.
Grimes and McBride have made things incredibly difficult for opposing players yo find scoring opportunities, as they both play with physical aggression and give 100% effort on the floor.
New York’s opponents are surely taking notice of Grimes’ stellar impact, as Hornets head coach Steve Clifford had some good words to share about the Houston product prior to Friday’s game.
“He’s a hard-playing kid. Plays on both ends of the floor. He’s a good, good player….he’s got size, he’s intense, he’s making shots. Toughness is harder & harder to find in our league. Certainly he looks like a guy with a good future.”Steve Clifford on Quentin Grimes
The Knicks will look to continue their strong defensive showing along with their winning streak when they head back home to take on an impressive 14-10 Sacramento Kings squad Sunday night.
The Kings currently have the 5th best offensive rating in the NBA and are 6th in the NBA in 3PM/game, so New York will be up for a good challenge.
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