I often wonder what opposing teams, their beat reporters and bloggers are saying about the Celtics before/after playing the Celtics. Here's a dose of 'enemy chatter' from New York.
The biggest culprit appears to be the interior defense, "led" by Amare Stoudemire. Stoudemire has never been a great defender, but he's looked particularly indifferent or unengaged early in games, especially as his minutes have gone up. And to be fair, the coaching staff seem to realize that acting as anchor of the defense and carrying the offense for 40+ minutes may be asking too much of Amare, so they've tolerated numerous defensive lapses in the interior, the same way they tolerated (or worked around) Steve Nash's shaky defense in Phoenix.
According to Hoopdata, the Knicks are the second worst team in the league in opponents shots attempted and made at the rim, allowing 26 attempts and 17 makes per game — they are 11th in opponent FG% at the rim, one percentage point below league average. Teams that are successful at limiting shots at the rim tend to be strong defensive teams and good teams generally (with one or two exceptions): Indiana, Atlanta, Utah, Orlando and San Antonio. D'Antoni's Phoenix team in 2006-07 with Amare and Nash was in the middle of the pack (15th) in shots attempted and made at the rim, and 8th in FG% allowed. This Knick team isn't quite there in terms of forcing the opponent to take jumpers and limiting higher percentage attempts inside.
I've been scouring the interweblogs, looking for boisterous, overconfident Knicks fans heading into tonight's game. And… I can't find any.
See this blog post by Bandwagon Knick as evidence. While most of the media is massaging Amare, he's criticizing his defense.
Since when are New Yorkers rational and logical?