Following yet another rout on his home floor Friday night against the Pacers, Knicks head coach David Fizdale was asked what is wrong with his team's defense. He had a very definitive, but simple answer.
"All of it," he told NorthJersey.com's Chris Iseman.
The Knicks are second-to-last in defensive rating in the NBA this season at 113.5, and it isn't hard to believe with the team's 10-32 record. And Fizdale doesn't believe it's lackadaisical play from his squad, but rather it is the system that he is trying to run.
"We struggle with the concepts right now," Fizdale said. "We really do. And the biggest one is the weak side of our defense and understanding how to scramble out of coverage. Which is typical. In my conversations with other coaches that have coached similar type teams, that was always their biggest issue, was ball movement, getting them to share the ball and getting them to understand how to defend on the weak side."
This hasn't always been the issue for the Knicks, though. In the beginning of the season, they were actually playing well on the defensive side of the ball. However, as teams begin to see what works and what doesn't, adjustments are made.
The Knicks haven't been able to make the same adjustments, and that leads to lapses.
"As the year goes, you add the more dynamic actions and things like that," Fizdale said. "And so as we started to move through the year, we started to see more and more packages of plays and different things that teams are doing. Cute stuff that they do to confuse you. As that's gone on and new situations that come up, it was like, 'Oh man, I just figured this one out. Now I gotta guard these two things that Golden State threw at me that I've never seen before.'"
But by the time the Knicks do figure that out, it's too late in the fourth quarter and another loss is tallied on their record. Of course, losses isn't the end of the world for this team that is rebuilding, and would love even better draft position than they already have. As of Saturday, they own the fourth slot in the lottery.
Speaking of fourth, that is also one problem for the Knicks. The fourth quarter hasn't been kind to this team that can't close games when they have the lead. Three quarters of solid basketball is played, but when the fourth comes around, bad decisions on the offensive end turn into even worse ones on the defensive side.
"These teams bomb you out the gym," Fizdale said. "And your defensive rating and your defensive field-goal percentage and all of that stuff skyrockets, just because of one patch in the game."
But it's all OK because the Knicks are a young team and learning along the way, right?
"A lap around the league is usually a big help to a lot of young players just because they get to see all of the different crap by the end of the year that's going to be thrown at them," Fizdale said. "And so by the time the next year rolls around, they're not caught off guard by it."
Hopefully that's the case for the Knicks next season. But, right now, it hasn't looked pretty for Fizdale's group and there's a lot of season left to play.