Written by By Ryan Idellgoff, CNN
After winning the New York Knicks’ first playoff game in a decade on Sunday, James Dolan, team owner and principal owner of Cablevision, gave his troops a birthday party.
His men won, albeit by two-tenths of a point, but what they should really be celebrating is a strong defensive effort that was otherwise absent from Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals series with the Toronto Raptors on Saturday.
The Knicks rank among the bottom five teams in the NBA in defensive efficiency, dead last in both points allowed per 100 possessions and assists allowed per 100 possessions. At best, this means they win “almost all” of their games on offense. But all too often the scoring has been abysmal, meaning there are few chances for good defense to take hold.
James Dolan gets congratulatory cake after the Knicks beat the Raptors on Sunday, where he tweeted the hashtag #HowOurLadiesWereClowned. Credit: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images North America
So, what happened?
The Knicks were dreadful in their first game with Patrick Ewing, Doc Rivers and John Starks, a collection of centerpieces that helped anchor a title-contending team. They also last played a great defense in the 2010-11 season — the post-Michael Jordan, Stephon Marbury era — and finally got to defend their title in 2011-12.
In reality, however, things have been steadily going downhill for the Knicks on the defensive end of the floor.
The first year after the natl title in 2011-12, the Knicks ranked first in defensive efficiency. In the subsequent seven seasons, they finished near the bottom of the league in points allowed per 100 possessions.