Thibodeau Breaks Down Challenges of Defending Stretch 5s for the KnicksNovember 16, 2023
ATLANTA — Kristaps Porzingis has a point.
Porzingis, the former Knicks first-round pick, is a 36% career three-point shooter who is shooting 40% from downtown this season as the beneficiary of higher-quality looks alongside Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown on the Boston Celtics.
He has peppered the Knicks from downtown in two early matchups this season, averaging 25.5 points on better than 50 percent shooting from downtown.
Porzingis is shooting 8-of-15 from downtown against the Knicks this season. After his Celtics handed the Knicks a 16-point loss in Boston, he said New York’s drop coverage on defense — where Mitchell Robinson sits back and protects the rim instead of a hard close-out on the stretch-five — creates easy shooting opportunities
“I probably could’ve shot a couple more threes, but Mitch did a good job of running out to me and not falling for any pump fakes, so I think he did a pretty good job,” Porzingis said in Boston. “They were guarding me better than the first game but still. I’m pretty comfortable playing against those kind of coverages, and it’s a matter of finding the best shot.”
Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said players like Porzingis are part of the challenge in today’s NBA. Thibodeau pointed out that out teams in the NBA now have stretch-fours and many have centers who can shoot the three, too.
PRAISE FOR MITCH
Thibodeau continues to praise Robinson for his actions that go unnoticed on a traditional box score.
As of Wednesday, Robinson ranks 13th in the NBA in both screen assists and points scored off screen assists.
“[He’s] just trying to create advantages and trigger action,” Thibodeau said. “That’s important, and oftentimes it gets overlooked, but that gets guys downhill.”
Thibodeau said Robinson’s screening also leads to offensive rebounding. Robinson’s 11.4 rebounds per game ranks seventh in all of basketball, but he leads the league with 5.8 offensive boards per game.
“It’s not only the screen part of it, but also he’s rolling to the rim, which is pulling people in and then that creates drive-pass-pass opportunities,” said Thibodeau, “and oftentimes that leads to the offensive rebounding because of their scrambles off the body.”
Donte DiVincenzo says there aren’t as many bad teams in the NBA anymore, which is why a 5-5 Knicks record through the opening 10 games isn’t a bad sign.
“Look across the league. There’s not a team that’s — besides what, the Sixers and the Nuggets — everybody else has three, four losses,” he said. “So a lot of teams are .500 that are really good teams. So I think just across the NBA, it’s more competitive this year. A lot of teams have gotten better.”
“Teams at the bottom of last year have gotten better. So there’s no more easy nights to get easy wins if you will. Starting off the season early, even teams that were — San Antonio, Charlotte — they’re still tough games to come out and win.”
Hartenstein made his first three-pointer of the season against the Celtics on Monday. It was a one-footed bank shot at the end of a shot clock.
“It was a little funky. But I’ll take it,” he said.
Hartenstein is shooting one of three from downtown this season. He counts the lucky shot as a three under his belt.
“I called bank,” he said.