Mike Woodson' defensive and offensive philosophies this season are complete opposites, but both have been extremely effective during the Knicks' five-game winning streak.
On one end of the floor, Woodson has set strategies to match up against different half-court sets, and each player needs to focus on being in a certain spot to cover. They are things they go over most of time in practice, being that Woodson is a demanding defensive-minded coach.
He knows those formations are the biggest key to winning a championship, and on Monday night, they were in place as the Knicks held the Pistons to only 85 points in their victory.
But on offense, Woodson has a different way of thinking.
"I like to keep it open," he said after the game. "Guys are unselfish. You won't ever hear a whole lot from me offensively."
Tonight, even with that exact opposite approach, the Knicks nearly reached the 100-point plateau for the fourth time in five games. They finished with 99.
"I think we're really finding our momentum right now," Steve Novak said. "We're getting a lot of guys back in their groove."
Recently, James White spoke with ESPNNewYork.com and shared more about Woodson's loose offensive approach.
"Woodson doesn't want you to play like robots," he said. "You've got to go out there and just play free. That's the only way to play. It allows you freedom, but you can't be out there missing shots. If you're going to make a move, you better make it your best move."
On Monday, Carmelo Anthony played his usual role of opening-period orchestrator. Woodson wanted to go through Melo early and often, which has often been the case this season. In that scenario, the coach likes to spread the court for 3-point shooting when Melo attacks or is double teamed -- and all the guys have the green light. Case in point: In the first quarter, Melo accounted for 13 of the Knicks' first 15 points with his scoring or facilitating.
The baseline corner, especially, has been where Woodson wants his role players positioned. Through Anthony's penetration, coupled with Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler in pick-and-rolls, the ball has moved well to those areas for open looks.
In addition, Felton and Jason Kidd have been aggressive pushing the ball off defensive rebounds, so Anthony, Novak and J.R. Smith can set up from behind the arc and help build big runs. Monday against the Pistons, they were able to jump out to a 57-36 halftime lead because of their 10-for-20 downtown shooting.
"I think the biggest key to our transition really is the way our point guards play and the kind of shooters that we have," Novak said. "I feel like it's just tough (for teams to guard us) because the court is spread, and you kind of have to guard the perimeter -- even in transition."
Amar'e Stoudemire offered a similar perspective.
"It's hard to stop us because we have so many threats in the starting five and with guys coming off the bench," he said. "We just have so many offensive threats."
The Hawks, Magic, Bucks, Kings and Pistons have all seen it firsthand. Now, the key is to prove their different offensive and defensive schemes can work against the top teams.
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