New York Knicks: Simplifying the defense is working

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DENVER, COLORADO - DECEMBER 15: Head coach Mike Miller of the New York Knicks instructs his team as the play the Denver Nuggets in the first quarter at the Pepsi Center on December 15, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.

The New York Knicks are going back to basics with their defensive coverages under interim head coach Mike Miller.

With David Fizdale at the helm, the New York Knicks oscillated between defensive coverages. But in the 11 games under interim head coach Mike Miller, the team is keeping things simple.

“We’re not overcomplicating anything” Julius Randle said via SNY. “We’re doing a good job of sticking to our coverages and just executing our coverages, being disciplined in that, not overcomplicating things and I think we’re rebounding well.”

Fizdale employed a switch-heavy defensive scheme that is widely used around the NBA, but the team was never able to develop a consistent defensive identity. While they have a few elite individual defenders like Mitchell Robinson and Frank Ntilikina, the entire team struggled to defend.

With Fizdale running the show, the Knicks were 25th in the league with a 112.9 defensive rating. Under Miller, the Knicks are posting a defensive rating of 109.9 (19th in that timeframe).

“I think we have sustained these possessions where maybe we would have a segment of three or four good ones,” Miller said. “I think we’re getting now where it’s five, six, seven good ones, and we’re able to impact the game a little bit more. I thought we defended really well at the beginning of the Brooklyn game, and in stretches, we put together really good possessions. And I think it takes some of the pressure off our offense. When it does that, we can get into a possession game and be able to make stops.”

There hasn’t been a dramatic difference since Fizdale’s firing, but it’s impossible to deny the impact of Miller’s tweaks. The Knicks are 5-6 with the interim head coach calling the shots and there’s a new air of optimism in Madison Square Garden.

Miller and the Knicks will welcome Carmelo Anthony and the Portland Trail Blazers to the Garden on New Year’s Day (7:30 p.m. ET).

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