When you compare the New York Knicks’ play at home against on the road, it is as if they are two completely different teams.
When it comes to the New York Knicks, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz said it best: “there is no place like home.” It’s easily one of the most famous lines from the 1939 classic film. “As different as night and day” and “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” are also acceptable analogies when examining how the Knicks play at Madison Square Garden compared to the road.
New York owns a record of 17-16 on the season. That has them sitting ninth in the Eastern Conference. Their 15 wins at Madison Square Garden are tied with the San Antonio Spurs for the most home wins in the NBA. The problem is when they take the show on the road. Their two road wins are tied for a league worst. The cause of this disparity cannot be limited to just one area. The difference in play at home compared to on the road can be seen on offense and defense.
The New York Knicks are scoring 107.3 points per game at home. That is good for 14th in the league. They are scoring 9.1 points fewer away from New York. The 98.2 points they score per game on the road ranks 26th.
The Knicks are a top ten shooting team on the comfort of their home court. They rank sixth in field goal percentage (47.9) and tenth in three-point percentage (38.0). Take them out of the “Big Apple” and they are an average team at best from the floor ranking 14th in field goal percentage (45.0). The 33.3 percent that they are shooting from behind the three-point arch ranks 29th out of a possible 30 teams.
Another reason the Knicks have been so successful at home has been their dominance on the offensive glass. Their 11.1 offensive rebounds per game at home has them tied for sixth in the league. That directly results in second-chance opportunities. They rank third in second-chance points at home averaging 15.8 per game. The team averages three less on the road which is still good for tenth.
The real discrepancy between how the New York Knicks play at home compared to on the road can be found on the defensive end of the court. Opponents are scoring 108.2 points per game against the Knicks outside of New York City. That ranks 20th in the league. The 101.0 points per game they give up at home ranks eighth. New York is only allowing their opponents to connect on 42.2 percent of their field goal attempts in Madison Square Garden. They lead the league in that category. That changes drastically when the Knicks are on the road. The 47.7 field goal percentage they are allowing ranks 24th. From behind the three-point arc, opponents are shooting 35.9 percent in the Garden. Good for tenth. Compare that to the 37.0 percent allowed on the road which ranks 20th.
There are a few other defensive statistics that stick out when you compare at home against on the road. Opponents are averaging 46.0 points in the paint when New York is on the road. That ranks 18th in the league. The Knicks are dominating the paint at home only allowing 36.6 points in it. That ranks second only to the Utah Jazz (36.0). New York is dead last in the league allowing 26.5 assists per game when they are on the road. At home, they are only allowing 19.9 which is good for fourth. The Knicks are getting run out of the gym on the road. The 18.4 fast break points that they allow per game ranks at the very bottom of all 30 teams. At home, they rank third only allowing 6.6 per game.
It is clear as day to anyone that has watched the New York Knicks this season that there is a huge difference in their play at home compared to on the road. With a record of 2-10 on the road, the real question is what can they do to correct those woes?
The answer is time.
New York has been so bad for so long that they needed a complete face-lift. Out are Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony. In are Scott Perry and Enes Kanter. Once a rebuilding franchise obtains a competent front office, the next step is to construct a young core to build on. The Knicks have started to build that core. The third step is being dominant on their home court. Currently, New York is 15-6 at home. The final step is succeeding on the road.
Time and experience are the only things that will cure the problems that the Knicks are experiencing away from MSG. There is no reason to believe that with the new regime and current roster that the Knicks have cannot solve this issue. If they are unable to do so, the seats of Jeff Hornacek and his coaching staff will become quite hot. Justified or not.