The New York Knicks might be the NBA’s most dangerous team when their 3-point shot is falling. Photo Credit: Keith Allison, Flickr.com
The New York Knicks are an interesting, yet dangerous team. And with the playoffs looming, it’s time we start thinking about their vulnerable spots.
The Knicks can drop in the standings, but not by a ton. They trail the Indiana Pacers by a half game for the second seed. The Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls are closely chasing them down for the third seed, but it would take a very good month of March to catch them.
The point is, the Knicks are going to the playoffs, but aren’t completely invincible if they face the wrong team at the wrong time.
A team that can do the below things will have the best chance at knocking off the Knicks:
Tyson Chandler is one of the NBA’s best rebounders. Photo Credit: Scott Mecum
Don’t Let Tyson Chandler Clean Up Missed Shots
Tyson Chandler isn’t going to kill a team offensively, unless he’s given the opportunity to do what he does best–clean up missed shots.
Chandler has an extremely limited offensive repertoire. Don’t be fooled by the fact that he leads the NBA in field-goal percentage. Those stats are highly skewed by the actual value of the shot a player takes–Chandler’s points come from tip-ins and easy dunks, whereas Kevin Durant’s shots, for example, are varied.
To put things into context, more than 70 percent of his shots are assisted. That figure isn’t including the put-backs, which make up a good chunk of his scoring output.
So, keeping Chandler off of the offensive boards would be the ideal strategy. He leads the league with 4.4 offensive rebounds per game and the Knicks don’t have anyone else that occupies then lane quite like he does, now that Amar’e Stoudemire is out for six weeks with a knee injury.
Obviously, keeping Chandler off the glass is easier said than done, but not impossible.
Steve Novak shoots 43.2 percent from beyond the arc. Photo Credit: Scott Mecum
Limit Production From Beyond the Arc
This one’s obvious. The Knicks heavily rely on the 3-point shot to win games and restricting it would cause some confusion.
Just how much do they rely on 3-pointers? Well, 32.5 percent of their points come from shots that are beyond the arc, which leads the NBA. Moreover, Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton, Steve Novak, J.R.Smith and Carmelo Anthony all attempt more than four 3-pointers per game.
The thing is, the Knicks don’t have much of a counter move if a team shuts down their 3-point shooting. As mentioned previously, Chandler isn’t much of a post-up threat. Stoudemire, who needs knee surgery, is out for six weeks. And Kenyon Martin, like Chandler, does the gritty work.
Simply put, they don’t have a guy, except for Anthony, who can score out of a post-up. This is what gives them that “wild card” label as a playoff team because they will a) completely dismantle a team in a seven-game series or b) go cold and get swept.
That sentiment makes contesting shots all the more important.
The Knicks’ offense runs through Carmelo Anthony. Photo Credit: Keith Allison
Disrupt Flow of Half-Court Sets
The Knicks don’t turn the ball over and fast-break points are a rarity for them. They rank last in the NBA in turnovers per game and second to last in fast-break points for game.
These numbers are hard to decipher, though. You would think that since they fire up nearly 30 3-pointers a game, there would be some reckless chaos, leading to an uptick in turnovers. The Knicks haven’t fallen into that trap, though.
Moreover, the ball has to move around the perimeter a couple of times to find the open man in a half court set, right? Not in the Knicks’ case. They are more drive-and-kick based, limiting the amount of passes that could potentially be stolen on the perimeter.
Numbers aside, disrupting the flow of a competent half court offense isn’t easy. Such a plan would involve trapping, say, Anthony or Smith, which would usually leave a shooter open. While those two examples aren’t the best of passers, finding the open man isn’t rocket science and the Knicks’ already dominant 3-point shooting would likely become better with more open looks off traps from opposing teams.
Even with the possible upshots, disrupting New York’s offense should be something that teams strive for in the playoffs.