Knicks look to shore up defense at home ahead of Lakers' visit
GREENBURGH, N.Y. — The past is irrelevant. Today is relevant. That, in essence, is Jalen Brunson’s philosophy.
“Even though we won those two games, whatever we [did] in the past doesn’t really matter,” Brunson said in response to a question about how he and his teammates plan to build on recent wins over the Celtics and Cavaliers.
“You [have] to come ready to play the next day,” Brunson said after practice Monday at the MSG Training Center. “Come ready to get better. It took a little step back [in Brooklyn on Saturday night] off those two pretty good wins last week, but every day is a new day. So we [have] to refocus. That’s our basics and kind of reset.”
Coming off a 122-115 loss to the Nets at Barclays Center, the Knicks (27-24) are about to embark on a four-game homestand against the Lakers, Heat, Clippers and 76ers. The stretch begins Tuesday against the Lakers (23-28), who lost to the Nets, 121-104, at Barclays Center on Monday night.
The Lakers announced Sunday that LeBron James (left ankle soreness) and Anthony Davis (right foot stress injury) would not play against the Nets. It is not known if one or both will play in the nationally televised game at the Garden.
“[The] Lakers are a really good team,” Immanuel Quickley said. “Some of their guys are resting tonight. So they’ll be ready to go. But we [have] to focus on the things that we need to do: rebounding, playing defense, [limiting] turnovers.”
And, perhaps, developing a home-court advantage.
The Knicks’ 12-13 record at the Garden ranks 25th in the league. For the sake of comparison, their 15-11 mark on the road is third best in the league.
The primary culprit for the woes at home? Defense.
Opponents are scoring an average of 114.7 points in the 25 games at the Garden. Further examination reveals 15.9 points are coming off turnovers, another 14.7 are second-chance points, 11.2 are coming off the fast break and 45.9 are being scored in the paint.
What makes the home defensive struggles vexing is that the Knicks are playing well offensively. They are averaging 114.7 points at the Garden and shooting 46.4% from the field and 34.0% from three-point range.
So why are the Knicks struggling at home?
“Every game is different,” Tom Thibodeau said. “You have to be ready to go and just find a way to win.”
OK, then what needs some fine-tuning?
“Defensively, just staying tied together,” Quickley said. “A little bit more effort, maybe, and continuing to just do the right things on every defensive possession so we can contest every shot. If they make it, then oh, well. But we just want to continue to do the right things defensively and offensively continue to move the ball.
“All the best teams that go far in the playoffs may not be as talented as other teams, but if you move the ball, you can always make up for that. So I feel if we continue to keep playing together, continue to keep playing the way we’ve been playing, I think [it’ll] be really, really good.”