Mike Woodson Emphasizing Defense

Coach Ron Meyer: Mike Woodson Emphasizing Defense

Many NBA followers believed that the New York Knicks were in danger of missing the playoffs when they replaced Mike Dantoni with Mike Woodson at the head coach position. All you heard from the local media was a bunch of negatives.

  • The team is in turmoil

  • Carmelo Anthony isn't a good teammate

  • Jeremy Lin could only succeed in Dantoni's offensive schemes

  • Amare Stoudemire doesn't guard anybody

  • The Bucks just got better while the Knicks got worse

  • The sky is falling, the sky is falling!

Well, Woodson turned all of those points around almost immediately. The Knicks are 6-1 under Woodson, and the conversation has flip-flopped...

  • The team is finally playing like it's supposed to, getting effort on both sides of the court and solid bench play.

  • Carmelo is working hard in the areas of defense and rebounding and is doing a better job of sharing the ball.

  • Lin CAN play in a halfcourt set, and is the last guy you want to put on the free throw line in the final minutes of a close game.

  • Amare Stoudemire was guarding people until he hurt his back. His status is up-in-the-air for Monday Night's game in Milwaukee as I write this.

  • The Bucks did trade guys who weren't getting minutes for guys who were. But, Milwaukee just lost two critical home games to Boston and Indiana, making them less likely to catch New York from behind and keep the Knicks out of the playoffs.

  • The sky's the limit...the sky's the limit!

There's even talk of competing with Chicago and Miami at the top of the Eastern Conference come playoff time! I'm not willing to go that far. But, under Woodson, the Knicks did score ROAD victories at Philadelphia and Indiana...two teams who are going to be in the Eastern brackets. New York has a chance to catch Philadelphia for a #4 seed because the Atlantic Division winner will get that spot. If healthy, New York might be the third best team in the Eastern playoffs when they finally start regardless of what the seeds are.

What was it that Woodson did right?

  • First, he commanded respect. Apparently Carmelo and Amare had just completely tuned out D'Antoni, figuring they didn't need to play defense as long as they scored some points. Woodson wouldn't accept that. The players didn't even challenge it. They jumped right in and gave their all on both sides of the ball. Carmelo told the press that he was playing harder under Woodson.

  • Secondly, he emphasized defense at the expense of offense. You could hear it in the huddles during timeouts in the TV games. He was emphasizing how important every game was...every possession was...and how shutting down the other team was everything. The points would come with this offense. Get stops. Get stops!

  • Thirdly, he made sure everyone understood that Lin was going to run the offense on the floor. No questions asked. Lin was the point guard. This kept Lin contributing at a high level in terms of assists and hustle even if his scoring went down in a more defensive-minded approach. The question of "what's going to happen now" disappeared.

  • Finally, he kept the bench involved. During the best of "Linsanity," it was the New York bench doing most of the damage because they hustled and hit shots. Woodson kept them involved, and has been getting much more consistent production out of J.R. Smith than Dantoni had.

The Knicks are 6-1 straight up and ATS since the coaching change, which means Vegas oddsmakers have been very slow to react to New York's improved play. The line is starting to catch up, and the back injury to Amare is a monkey wrench Woodson has to deal with this week. I may or may not be backing New York tonight vs. Milwaukee, Wednesday vs. Orlando, Friday in Atlanta, and Saturday vs. Cleveland. Big games in the Big Apple! I can tell you I'll be watching this team very closely because handicapping from A COACH'S PERSPECTIVE is the best way to beat any sport.

You can purchase my game day releases right here at the website with your credit card a few hours before first tip seven days a week. Monday's schedule is large...and then we have the NIT Final Four coming up the next few days as well. So, this is a great time to try out my service. If you want to talk about packages for the rest of basketball, call my office at 1-877-540-8787.

New York may have made a coaching move just in the "Knick" of time for saving this season. If you've been struggling picking winners on your own, it's time to put A COACH IN YOUR CORNER!

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