People are hesitant to credit a person with genius work, especially if that particular individual hasn’t been lauded as one already.
What he does have—as a dope consolation prize—is a collection of players who have finally mastered his defensive philosophies and in this series against Boston, have turned into Wu Tang Killer Bees on a swarm.
For the third straight game, the Knicks have put the sleeper-hold on a Boston offense that’s leaking like honey out of a hive. It’s getting harder for doubters to deny the reality of the Knicks heightened defensive posture.
Even Doc Rivers discounted the Knicks gangster on defense. Despite his superstars shooting colder than a blind man in a snowstorm, Rivers told his team during timeouts that they were “right there (offensively).” He told them that they were just missing easy shots.
The Knicks dedication to D, and the players who specialize in that department for them, had a lot to do with Boston’s futility on O throughout this series. Pierce and Garnett shot a Pepe Le Pew 11-28 for just 29 points in Game 3.
Jason Kidd was a pest all evening, guarding multiple players and making life a living nightmare for Pierce at times. Kenyon Martin had his work belt and tool box swinging heavy. Pablo Prigioni is relentless and unforgiving on D, and finished with a game-high five steals. Stamping this Knicks D as official is the return of Iman Shumpert as a defensive lynchpin.
The Knicks “all-in” defensive swag doesn’t appear to be a fluke, and if the Celtics can’t score on the Knicks, then it’s doubtful Indiana’s low-scoring squad is going to turn into the Denver Nuggets of the late ‘80s. If the commitment to gritty, physical defense is becoming a permanent part of the Knicks’ playoff DNA (and they shore up that rebounding a bit), then that alone could be a game-shifter.