Tonight’s 4 Factors (vs MIL, 11/30/07)

After each game this season, we’ll be taking a look at what the four factors have to say about the game– how the winner won and the loser lost. For an intro to the four factors, see A Layman’s Guide to Advanced NBA Statistics.

Knicks defeat Bucks, 91 – 88

	Pace	Eff	eFG	FT/FG	OREB%	TOr
MIL	87.0	101.1	49.4%	14.1	21.6	13.8
NYK		104.6	51.3%	17.1	21.6	14.9

The formula for tonight’s win was a lukewarm offense combined with a solid defensive effort. The offense was underwhelming given that the Bucks are defensive slouches, allowing 111.1 points per 100 possessions coming into the game. The Knicks actually shot pretty well from the field, bucking a season-long trend (45.5% eFG, 27th in the league), and kept their TOs down to acceptable levels. But they also had a meek showing from the free throw line and had an unusually weak offensive rebounding effort (paging David Lee).

On another night against a decent defense this game is likely another frustrating loss. But the mediocre offense was enough because of the defensive effort. The Bucks came into the game with an above average offense fueled by a platoon of perimeter shooters, a formula usually spelling doom for New York’s D. But they managed to hold the Bucks to their season average eFG%, while also not sending them to the line and thwarting their usually strong offensive rebounding (29.5 o-reb%, 8th). Not exactly an effort reminiscent of the Spurs, but for one of the league’s worst defenses, it’s a strong effort.


4 factor stats were acquired using the ESPN4Factors script by Cherokee of the ABPRmetrics board. Firefox users can use this script (after installing the Greasemonkey extension) to see 4 factor stats automatically displayed in all NBA boxscores on espn.com.

Just Call Me Charlie Brown

You know, maybe I these guys are just going to concentrate on basketball now and just play...

Back in the halcyon days of the beginning of the week I found my self thinking, “Maybe Lucy’s right. Maybe these guys are starting to come to an understanding; it’s time to just come together and play. This may not be a playoff team, but there’s no reason it has to be a laughingstock.”

What the hell was I thinking?

What the hell was I thinking?

What the hell was I thinking, indeed?

Once again I find myself laying flat on my proverbial back. I’ll be damned if Lucy didn’t pull the ball away right before I could kick it yet again. How could I have been such a fool?

If you’re lucky, you watched the Cowboys and Packers last night, or were out at a happy hour or a birthday party and missed the whole thing. If you’re only partially lucky like me, you got home and turned the game on in the second half and at least were spared the indignity of actually watching Boston build a 50 point lead. I say only partially lucky because I turned on the game, saw the score, yet remained transfixed. I managed to change the channel to Rutgers/Louisville but kept coming back, hoping for an 8-0, 10-0, 12-0, ego-salvaging garbage-time run that never came. A friend of mine once described a similar experience with perhaps Spike Lee’s worst film, Girl 6. “Dave,” she said, “it was so bad I was paralyzed. I couldn’t turn it off. I just knew it couldn’t possibly be this bad. It had to get better. It never did.”

Even Martin Johnson’s sage words from earlier in the day to forget about the Celts and concentrate on the Bucks were rendered immaterial by what transpired at the Watering Hole. You lose by 20-30 points and Johnson’s absolutely correct; you just move onto the Bucks. You lose by nearly 50 and its existential crisis time. With all due respect to the Celtics, scoring only 59 points and losing by almost 50 isn’t about talent disparity. It’s about despair. It’s about a fundamental absence of trust that seems to be ripping apart the spirit of this team–with Thomas and Marbury both outfitted with Freddy Krueger-style finger razors. Hearing Thomas chastise the team for selfish behavior at the post game presser is so rich it’s not even ironic anymore; it’s tragic comedy.

A quick random stream of consciousness… I kept wondering why Q-Rich came up with the “Boston isn’t all that” bulletin board material. It seemed so ill-timed, particularly considering the source. Richardson isn’t Paul LoDuca or Billy Wagner. He’s not especially outspoken, nor is he prone to quotable quotes born out of frustration. But I think I get it now. I suspect those quotes were born from desperation not frustration; a feeble attempt to rally a team falling apart at the seams despite its recent victories. Of course I may be reading too much into that. Maybe he just hates the Celtics.

In any event, those of you familiar with Boston metro’s twisted, spaghetti-style “system” of roads are probably also familiar with the phrase, “you can’t get there from here.” When I moved there in the summer of 2000 I quickly became acquainted with it because it is quite literally true. You can be within eyesight of your destination but simply unable to access it from where you are. I suppose that is a fitting metaphor for our beloved Knickerbockers. We just can’t get there from here.

Fire Thomas? Sure, but it’s deeper than that. If Marbury is allowed to outlast yet another coaching/management regime playing by his own rules he really will be in charge of this franchise. That is a fate worse than anything I can imagine.

Get rid of Dolan. Okay, but how? Why would the owners, who employ David Stern, empower him to rid the league of such an easy mark? Maybe the old man gets involved and cleans house. But that seems less and less likely with each passing loss, given the woeful start.

Get used to the view from on your back Knick faithful. It’s gonna get a whole lot worse before it gets better. Maybe I’ll start my college player watch after the holiday.

Tonight’s 4 Factors (@ BOS, 11/29/07)

After each game this season, we’ll be taking a look at what the four factors have to say about the game– how the winner won and the loser lost. For an intro to the four factors, see A Layman’s Guide to Advanced NBA Statistics.

Knicks lose to Celtics, 59 – 104

	Pace	Eff	eFG	FT/FG	OREB%	TOr
NYK	88.0	67.0	31.6%	14.5	14.9	17.0
BOS		118.2	54.4%	22.8	28.2	10.2

So the Knicks follow up the season’s best win with one of the worst losses in franchise history. Par for the course with this squad. Speaking honestly, a blowout heading into the game was probable– we’re talking about a matchup between a monster on both ends (Celtics 7th in offensive efficiency and 1st in defensive efficiency) and a team with substantial weaknesses on both ends (Knicks 25th in offense and 26th in defense).

The Knicks’ only hope to be competitive is through their inconsistent offense, and so a road game against the NBA’s top defense makes for a pretty hopeless situation. But the sheer magnitude of it was just too much. Coming out of this game, there will likely be a lot of renewed talk about how poorly the roster is constructed. But increasingly it seems like the more pressing problem is that the team is simply not coached very well. The better defenses in the NBA will take away your first option, necessitating adjustments and countermoves. But whenever a defense strikes upon a good strategy to thwart the Knicks’ attack, it seems as if Isiah has no other tricks in his pocket and the game is essentially already lost.


4 factor stats were acquired using the ESPN4Factors script by Cherokee of the ABPRmetrics board. Firefox users can use this script (after installing the Greasemonkey extension) to see 4 factor stats automatically displayed in all NBA boxscores on espn.com.

Tonight’s 4 Factors (vs UTH, 11/26/07)

After each game this season, we’ll be taking a look at what the four factors have to say about the game– how the winner won and the loser lost. For an intro to the four factors, see A Layman’s Guide to Advanced NBA Statistics.

Knicks defeat Jazz, 113 – 109

	Pace	Eff	eFG	FT/FG	OREB%	TOr
UTH	91.0	119.8	51.8%	24.7	46.2	15.4
NYK		124.2	57.6%	27.8	31.4	15.4

Probably the best win of the young season. The Knicks snapped their losing streak against a struggling Bulls team, but this win over the Western powerhouse Jazz certainly feels more like the turnaround game.

After a prolonged drought, the offense bounced back in a big way tonight. 124 points per 100 possessions is easily the best offensive performance of the season for the Knicks. Even more impressively, it came against a stingy Jazz team that had been 4th in the league in defensive efficiency coming into the night (allowing 102.4 pp100). The offense was clicking on all cylinders– a modest TO rate, superb showings at the line and on the offensive glass, and most impressively, a fantastic eFG near 60% after a long stretch of shooting efficiencies in the low 40s.

And all this was accomplished with an offensive no-show from Eddy Curry (8 points on 4-11 shooting). The lionshare of the credit goes to Zach Randolph, Jamal Crawford, and a resurgent Stephon Marbury. In a nutshell, the offense looks great when the guards are clicking. Getting them to click is the hard part, especially the ever-streaky Crawford. The Knick offense as a whole has been streaky this season, seemingly in step with the whims of Crawford’s game. If that pattern continues, it’s bad news for the Knicks over the long haul.

For all the credit going to the offense, the D was just about as bad, however. The Jazz’s rate of 119.8 points per 100 possessions tonight was the most efficient offensive performance against the Knicks this season, over 9 pp100 better than Utah’s season average. None of the 4 factors on D were good tonight. In particular, Utah just crushed the Knicks on the offensive glass, literally rebounding just under half of their misses. This marks another troubling trend in the early season– with the kind of rebounders the Knicks have, the one area they should do decently at on D is to protect the offensive boards.

Still, ultimately what it comes down to is that for this team, the offense must be very good in order for them to win. They got that offense tonight. Whether they can get it on a consistent basis will determine the fate of the season.


4 factor stats were acquired using the ESPN4Factors script by Cherokee of the ABPRmetrics board. Firefox users can use this script (after installing the Greasemonkey extension) to see 4 factor stats automatically displayed in all NBA boxscores on espn.com.