Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Eastern Conference First Round Game 2: Knicks 87, Celtics 71

Boston Celtics 71 Final
Recap | Box Score
87 New York Knicks
Carmelo Anthony, SF 40 MIN | 11-24 FG | 10-11 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 34 PTS | +22

Had a classic “Look a little closer” first half, shooting 3 for 11 and displaying a frustrating willingness to settle for long two but going 8 for 9 from the line, committing just one turnover, and drawing a whopping six fouls, including two on Kevin Garnett that would pay dividends throughout the evening. Melo’s second half approach was the same, he was simply hotter (8 for 13 for 19 points). His FG% so far this series isn’t pretty (he’s 24 for 53) but he has 70 points on 53 shots (owing to 6/10 from deep and 16/17 from the line) and has committed only 4 turnovers. And he played a role in an immense second half performance on the defensive end. Has managed to be very good in this series without the benefit of the Melosplosion that we all know is coming before this postseason is out. Bravo.

Iman Shumpert, SF 18 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +24

Quick fouls cost him most of the first half and limited to 18 minutes on the night. That turned out to be enough. His half-dozen points came on two quick corner threes out of the break that erased a 6-point Celtic advantage and the intensity of the Knicks’ perimeter defense — a misnomer in a Shumpless second quarter — hit historically relevant highs upon his return to the court. The Knicks were plus-24 in Shumpert’s 18 minutes. This was not a coincidence.

Tyson Chandler, C 22 MIN | 1-4 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | +21

Has played 1 great minute (Dunk-and-1 and a block at the other end during a 20-second stretch of the third) and 41 crappy ones in this series. Looked like he was moving a bit better tonight but signs of his limitations still abounded (clearest example: took a great feed from Felton and instead of up-faking Garnett to clear himself for an emphatic dunk, he flipped up an awkward layup that the Ticket Stub [see what I did there?] dismissed rather easily).

Raymond Felton, PG 37 MIN | 8-15 FG | 0-2 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | +22

If you had told me in November that the Knicks would play the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs and that the deciding factor of the series would be one team’s utter domination of the other at the point guard position, I’ve gotta be honest with you, I might’ve stopped watching right there and taken up knitting or basket-weaving or origami or…ugh…maybe even hockey. And, yet, as the desperately Rondoless Celtics try a succession of underwhelming unpoints at the helm of a heretofore listless offense, Raymond Felton has flourished. His assist total (2) was a bit misleading this evening, collateral damage to Chandler’s physical limitations and the resultingly spare pick-and-roll game. Felton forced the issue in transition and the halfcourt alike, played his part in the Thing 1/Thing 2 offense alongside Prigioni and Kidd alike, and – more than anyone else – controlled the game during the Knicks utterly bonkers third quarter. Defensively, his value is amplified by the Celtics unusual personnel; his typical shortcomings as an on-ball defender against quick point guards are moot, his bulldogging has bothered Celtics from Avery Bradley to Paul Pierce, and his freedom to stray has allowed him to create turnovers and points in transition. This grade is admittedly as much about his Game 1 performance as his showing tonight but I make no apology for that; playoff series are like good sci-fi movies: the rules are established early on and only acts of heroism, divine intervention, or wholesale tears in logical fabric should be able to break them. Felton has helped establish the rules of this series; the onus is on Boston to rewrite them.

Pablo Prigioni, PG 18 MIN | 0-1 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 1 PTS | +7

I simply refuse to believe that he’s 100%. As ever, the Knicks were a far better offensive team tonight when they had a pair of point guards on the court together. The fact that Prigs only got 18 minutes under such circumstances — and was strikingly absent throughout most of a pitiful second quarter — is an indication that Woody wasn’t ready to give him too much burn just yet. Made good use of his minutes though; he and Shumpert were in many ways the first two ripples in what ultimately became a decisive third quarter tidal wave. Or something like that — I don’t really know tides.

Kenyon Martin, PF 23 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 4 BLK | 3 TO | 3 PTS | -6

I don’t know how. I don’t know why. I don’t care how. I don’t care why. I just watch, and I smile, and I can’t wait for more.

Chris Copeland, SF 9 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | 0

On a scoreless night in a game replete withe commercials for the upcoming movie version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, it occurred to me that Copeland is the Nick Carraway to JR Smith’s Gatsby. I have nothing else to contribute herein.

Steve Novak, SF 10 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -14

Buzz, your girlfriend, Woof!

Quentin Richardson, SF 3 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +2

Instead of a jersey he should wear a Double Claro wrapper. And when Woodson puts him into the game, he should light his hair on fire.

James White, SG 3 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +2

An airline pilot saves almost all his passengers on his malfunctioning airliner which eventually crashed, but an investigation into the accident reveals something troubling. Starring Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, John Goodman, and Nadine Velasquez. 2.5/4 Stars.

J.R. Smith, SG 36 MIN | 7-15 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | +2

An electrifying 4 for 4 first quarter culminated in a no-doubter 39-footer that put the Knicks up 6 at the gun. Unfortunately, he took this as a sign that we should run the JR Stepback Offense and put up a particularly unenjoyable 1 for 5 second before settling for a more measured second half approach. Not his best work and not his worst. Game could’ve gone south if he hadn’t staked them to their first quarter advantage which is the primary reason for his better than average grade.

Mike Woodson

Two straight games the group has looked lackluster out of the gate and two straight games they’ve leveled and then pulled away behind dominant second-half efforts. The first two games of this series represent the two lowest second half scoring outputs in Celtics playoff history; they’ve scored 48 points total in 4 second-half quarters. Plenty of credit to the coach for that one. And yet, it’s hard to shake the feeling that a slow start in Boston won’t be as easily overcome, hard to wonder why they go away from their wildly effective base offensive look for long stretches. It’s an A — it almost has to be — but it doesn’t come without a measure of concern that won’t be allayed until the Knicks put their mark on a first half.

Four Things We Saw

  1. There are moments in the life of a franchise that mean something. After an extended drought, we’ve been lucky enough to have many of these in the last few years. A 5-point win in Miami in the early days after the Melo trade meant purpose. A disallowed three at the end of a playoff game meant pain, but the kind of pain that only comes with belief. A roller-coaster February behind an out-of-nowhere young point guard meant insanity. An overtime win against Chicago at the Garden meant excitement. A sweep-stopping win behind a singular performance by our franchise player meant possibility. A win in Boston in the aftermath of an insult meant defiance, meant difference, meant change. A win in Game 1 of a playoff series meant joy, meant exorcism.
  2. So what does this one mean? This one that fell flat for a half and was unwatchable for a quarter at the end? This one that was decided by 12 great minutes and forgettable for its other 36? It wasn’t about excitement, it wasn’t about joy, it wasn’t about dominance. It wasn’t even really about hope.
  3. It was about basketball. It was 48 minutes of “We’re up 1-0 at home against a proud opponent, we need to get Game 2 to hold serve at home and it doesn’t matter how.” What was this game about? It was about the fact that it wasn’t about anything bigger, about the fact that we’re past that, about the fact that we are the second-seeded team in our conference and – from coach to star to role players to fans – have begun to carry ourselves in a manner befitting that seed.
  4. What was tonight about? Tonight was just about tonight. And that it was able to just be about tonight makes it about more than any of the other milestones along the way.

37 comments on “Eastern Conference First Round Game 2: Knicks 87, Celtics 71

  1. jon abbey

    the Ticket Stub! HA!

    disagree that the fourth quarter was unwatchable, I can watch Martin play abusive defense all day long. Boston didn’t hit a FG for the last nine minutes of the game, that is my kind of quarter.

  2. Kevin McElroy Post author

    Defense was obviously awesome and K-Mart is a joy. It was great as a punctuation to the game but we also only scored 13 points. The third quarter WAS the game tonight, but your point is taken.

  3. TheRant

    I still find it hard to believe that K Mart was just sitting on his sofa all season, watching Netflix, waiting for his number to be called.

    Is this GG? Whoever did this, I’m a happy guy.

  4. ruruland

    Nuggets have 23 fast break points so far in the series. They averaged 20 per game (league best) in the regular season.

  5. Kevin McElroy Post author

    ruru-

    Thanks. I’m a busy guy (very demanding day job) but since I watch the games I can usually fit the recaps into my life. I have a couple non-cap ideas in the hopper but it’s hard to find time to do the research that I want to make sure to do before writing anything long-form. Want to get back to writing more though.

  6. ruruland

    Kevin McElroy:
    ruru-

    Thanks.I’m a busy guy (very demanding day job) but since I watch the games I can usually fit the recaps into my life.I have a couple non-cap ideas in the hopper but it’s hard to find time to do the research that I want to make sure to do before writing anything long-form.Want to get back to writing more though.

    Feel the same way.

  7. iserp

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: Wrong. Totally wrong. The WP formula does not change from season to season. The average adjusted WP changes, but that is a simple normalization. A great center (relatively to his peers) in 2013 is likely worth more than a great center in ’95.

    WP predicts based on historical trends. Do you want to see the numbers? They’re really not all that exciting. Aside from whiffing on the Nets, Warriors, and Timberwolves (understandably with all the injuries), they look pretty tight.

    http://wagesofwins.com/2012/10/31/nba-win-predictions-for-2012-13-volume-2-the-hand-crafted-edition/

    Living in european time and being busy yesterday i couldnt answer to this post, and although many of you have responded i want to chime in. 3 points:

    1) I wasn’t thinking that WP formula changes from year to year. My argument is that since WP doesn’t take into account role, if one player’s role changes from year to year, WP from other years is basically useless.

  8. iserp

    2) If you look at this predictions, it looks like teams that didnt change their roster are predicted much more accurately than teams that did. Aside of Timberwolves and 76ers, that had lots of injuries we had:

    – OKC lost harden and the prediction is down.
    – GSW had Curry / Bogut coming from injury. The prediction is waaay down (even though the it was accounted with minutes for the great and injured Brandon Rush with his 0.211 WP48).
    - NOH is waaaaay up. Anthony Davis has been a bit worse than predicted, But Ryan Anderson WP48 plummeted when changing teams.
    - Brooklyn is waaaay down. Deron Williams played more minutes than predicted and much better. And Brook Lopez changed from having a negative WP48 (negative not in below 0.100, but below 0.!!!) to having a respectable 0.117 Also, Reggie Evans played much more than predicted. OTOH, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace both had worse WP48 than predicted.
    - The prediction for HOU, WSH and LAL has been OK.

    Among teams that didnt change lots of personnel it is surprising that Miami, Pacers and Memphis have low predictions.

    3) I am not impressed with the accuracy of those predictions. However, what accuracy was expected? I think it would have been more scientific to make a point differential prediction with some kind of standard deviation. I think it would suit more to the methodology of WP (correct me if i am wrong… but it is something like counting how many possesions i have / create, at which rate do i transform then into points, calculate a point differential, and then that into wins, isnt it? Calculating point differential would reduce the uncertainty of the last step). However, i also understand that it is quite a lot of work and this is for fun.

    Conclusion: This prediction basically consisted that teams would do the same as last year, except teams that changed roster, which were assigned a prediction that didnt match too well.

  9. Brian C

    For whatever reason, I can’t sign on to the site under my normal account (Mike’s working on it), but damned if I am going to miss celebrating a 2-0 series lead with y’all!

    So I’ll just this temporary account. What a win! I remember the last time they were up 2-0. I can’t believe it’s been that long. It’s weird. The 2000 team was not as good as this team but they also had the Pacers and Heat to worry about and not, well, the 2013 Pacers and Heat so I thought that that team was a good bet for the Finals (I thought they’d get their ass kicked by the Lakers, but I was just happy about them getting there). Hopefully they do better this time around against the Pacers and Heat!

  10. iserp

    jon abbey:
    iserp, I posted this on the other thread, but actually amusingly those WoW predictions were one of the least accurate of the win projection predictions listed here:

    http://weaksideawareness.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/checking-2012-13-nba-win-predictions-projections/

    Interesting. For all the flak that PER gets, Hollinger is 1st this year, and 4th and 2nd before that. I am not sure if he uses some other statistical methods he hasn’t disclosed to the general public… but i think it works well that he acknowledges the limitations of PER and usually tells when and why it is not a good comparison tool.

  11. Z-man

    That was an ass-knicking! Nothing better than Doc throwing in the towel with 5 minutes remaining.

    Sorry, City of Boston, but nothing would make me happier than a sweep (to repay the favor from 2011.) K-MART!!!

  12. Nick C.

    Another game another close first half followed by a second half shutdown. D-E-F-E-N-S-E!

    When Miami pulls away no one bats an eye. Will people finally start waking up on this Knicks team (outside of this board)?

  13. mokers

    Great stat I saw on twitter. The Warriors and nuggets each scored more in every quarter of their game than the celtics did in the second half. Celtics just don’t have the offense to take a series. Knicks will have to put more complete games to beat the heat, but like everybody says at least there is a punchers chance.

  14. Frank

    Great win last night — a few thoughts:

    Boston just doesn’t have the horses to scare us, both offensively and ultimately defensively. Paul Pierce, as great as he is, can’t make us pay with a guy 6-7 inches and 30 lbs smaller than him? Garnett is a shell of himself, whether because of injury or age or both. Martin and Chandler have basically removed him from the game on their offensive end. And no Rondo basically means they rely on play design, run-outs in transition, and us making defensive mistakes. Now we know their plays and they can’t score in the halfcourt. We stopped turning the ball over and so their transition game died. And we stopped letting guys cut freely to the hoop.

    Defensively, Pierce is average at best, Garnett is good but not great anymore for whatever reason, and Bradley is great — but there’s only 1 Bradley. When JR and Felton are on the floor together, he can only guard one of them, which means the other guy can get whatever he wants against Terry, Courtney Lee, Jordan Crawford, etc. It’s no surprise that Felton has by far the highest +/- of the series (+38).

    You know who Boston reminds me of right now? Us from last year after all our PGs got hurt. Every possession was such a slog through mud. Every shot attempt contested. If we weren’t on fire from 3 or long two, the game was basically over.

    Last thing – Kenyon Martin has really been a revelation — hats off (again) to Ruru for basically predicting this from the start, although I can’t imagine even he thought K-Mart would be this good. You all know my love for Chris Copeland, but given our window (1-2 more years max with all our big contracts expiring after 14-15), I probably would be tempted to give him our mini-MLE x 2 years and hope that Copeland doesn’t get a bigger offer elsewhere. Still waiting for Larry Coon to get back to me re: what protections we have with Cope considering how high our payroll is.

  15. Hubert Davis

    “A disallowed three at the end of a playoff game meant pain, but the kind of pain that only comes with belief.”

    I’m drawing a blank here, which is odd because I usually don’t forget pain. When did this happen?

    Amare’s disallowed three in a game with playoff-like intensity against Boston springs to mind, but I can’t recall the playoff game we lost on a disallowed three.

  16. johnno

    Amazing how the narrative can change. Maybe a month ago, I read a lot of articles arguing that the Celtics were actually better off without Rondo. Now the Celtics are like a ship without a rudder because Rondo is hurt…

  17. bocker84

    When I read that line the first time, I assumed the same thing. That was a HELL of a moment to be a Knick fan.

    Easily the first time in years I was jumping in front of my TV in pure excitement and joy (at a Knicks game), even through it was a loss. I still remember after the game finished there were steady chants of “Mellloooooooo Mellllloooooooooooooo” coming from the crowd… still gives me goosebumps.

    Hubert Davis:
    “A disallowed three at the end of a playoff game meant pain, but the kind of pain that only comes with belief.”

    I’m drawing a blank here, which is odd because I usually don’t forget pain.When did this happen?

    Amare’s disallowed three in a game with playoff-like intensity against Boston springs to mind, but I can’t recall the playoff game we lost on a disallowed three.

  18. marechal

    Funny how this Knicks team makes me feel like the good Celtics teams of the past years (or even this year’s Heat). They seem to know they can flip a switch at any point and dominate their lesser opponents. Fun to watch.

  19. Garson

    Was at the game … Garden was rocking!

    thought after knicks went up 6 after first quarter , woodson left the bench (cope, novak ) in way too long to give the lead back at the start of the second and it swung the momentum back to the celtics for that quarter. Im all in for bench play that almost cost us the game.

    Luckily , one moster quarter can win you a game.

  20. Frank

    Per Tommy Beer on twitter – Boston is the 1st team in the shot clock era to score 25 or fewer 2nd half points in consecutive games, either in the regular- or post-season.

    So we can’t blame this all on them just having a bad offense. Our D is really really bringing it. And in addition, it’s not like Boston had an AWFUL offense this year – they were 20th — 1 spot behind our likely next opponent, the Pacers.

  21. Frank

    btw Novak probably should not play another minute in this series. Love Novak but he doesn’t look like he belongs out there right now. Cope looks a bit lost out there too but at least he’s not an absolute zero on defense.

  22. Hubert Davis

    That must be what he meant. I remember thinking that day, “I don’t care if it counted, it went in and I saw it and for about 13 seconds we got to celebrate it.” That was a moment.

  23. Hubert Davis

    johnno:
    Amazing how the narrative can change.Maybe a month ago, I read a lot of articles arguing that the Celtics were actually better off without Rondo.Now the Celtics are like a ship without a rudder because Rondo is hurt…

    Actually, it’s just amazing how stupid the narrative can get sometimes, isn’t it?

  24. Hubert Davis

    Frank:
    Per Tommy Beer on twitter – Boston is the 1st team in the shot clock era to score 25 or fewer 2nd half points in consecutive games, either in the regular- or post-season.

    So we can’t blame this all on them just having a bad offense. Our D is really really bringing it.And in addition, it’s not like Boston had an AWFUL offense this year – they were 20th — 1 spot behind our likely next opponent, the Pacers.

    Our defense is playing extremely well, but I don’t think it is playing “set NBA records for point against in the second half” well. I think it’s 50/50 between our defense and their offense.

    And I don’t know how to find with/without splits, but I’d guess that their offense without Rondo was a lot worse than 20th.

  25. Zanzibar

    Nice write-up as always, #4 at the end is one of those rare parsimonious comments which captures the essence of a situation in a few choice words! Maybe I’m just being petty, but I kinda take issue with this comment: “His FG% so far this series isn’t pretty (he’s 24 for 53)”. That’s 45.2% which is right around Melo’s career average of 45.6% and higher than his 44.9% this season. Considering he’s playing against a top defense, shouldn’t we overall be maybe even happy about that? On that subject, anyone familiar with any stats which show the average decline of teams’ EFG% in the playoffs compared to regular season? Finally, interesting stat on ESPN: Melo has passed the ball a total of 10 times in the first halves of the first two games, 27 times in the second halves.

  26. thenamestsam

    Frank:
    btw Novak probably should not play another minute in this series. Love Novak but he doesn’t look like he belongs out there right now. Cope looks a bit lost out there too but at least he’s not an absolute zero on defense.

    Proposed edit: Novak probably should not play another minute in these playoffs.

    I like him and he’s a nice specialty player, but he is just way too one dimensional for the post season. In the playoffs teams are much more prepared for the specific traits of players and much more prepared for the plays teams run and they just aren’t going to let Novak get good looks. We saw it last year and we’re seeing it this year. Yes his man staying glued to him provides a little boost to the spacing, but its just not enough to make up for his weakness in every other aspect of the game. He’s not going to get a good look at a 3, and without that he has no purpose on an NBA basketball court. He should play in garbage time and maybe in an end of quarter, last shot type situations from now on. It’s not like there’s any reason we need to be playing 10 guys non-garbage time minutes anyway.

    Kidd isn’t in the recap. I assume that’s accidental? Overall another nice win. Surprisingly for this Boston team they looked like they lacked composure in the 2nd half of this game. When things started going bad for them they allowed it to spiral out of control. They really miss Rondo on those possessions where they need to settle the game and get an open look. Just nowhere to go.

    Game 3 will be much more difficult. Hopefully the Knicks can bring the defensive intensity for a full 48.

  27. Frank

    Hubert Davis: And I don’t know how to find with/without splits, but I’d guess that their offense without Rondo was a lot worse than 20th.

    Actually Celts offense was better in reg season with him off the floor – per NBAwowy PPP 1.009 with Rondo, 1.045 without Rondo. Hard to imagine but again, playoff basketball is different.

    Just by comparison – LBJ on court, Heat O is 1.17 PPP. LBJ off-court, Heat O is 1.03 PPP.

  28. Kevin McElroy Post author

    While counterintuitive statistical support exists for the offense being better without Rondo, the argument isn’t there in the context of a series against the Knicks. His absence transforms them from one of the worst matchups for the Knicks to one of the best.

  29. Frank

    Kevin McElroy:
    While counterintuitive statistical support exists for the offense being better without Rondo, the argument isn’t there in the context of a series against the Knicks.His absence transforms them from one of the worst matchups for the Knicks to one of the best.

    Definitely agree – matchups matter, and also in postseason when opponents can lock onto your weaknesses and continuously beat on them, having a glaring weakness like “NO POINT GUARD ON PREMISES” will be a big problem.

  30. jon abbey

    not even just that, as Simmons has noted, Rondo maybe more than any other player in the league plays better in big games and often doesn’t show up for the Tuesday nighters in Cleveland.

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