BOBBLE- (n.) A bad step away from the starting gate by a racehorse.
Every game I watch this year feels like it is has the same pattern. The Knicks play terribly in the first quarter, then spend the next three quarters trying to recover. As they did with their 2-9 bobble to start the season, they crush my hopes right at the outset. By the start of the second a deep sense of nausea has usually set in, compounded by feelings of guilt and shame as I check to see if Jose Calderon, Andrew Bynum, or the Blazers are available for viewing on League Pass.
As a stat junkie, I know these kinds of “feelings” and “intuitions” can often be deceptive. So with the help of Ben F. at APBRmetrics and his magic game log scripts I investigated further. It turns out my gut was correct. Our Knickerbobblers have been inept in the first quarter this season. At the end of the first 12 minutes, they have trailed their opponents by 7 points or more 16 times . They have managed to take a lead larger than 5 only twice. They don’t seem to be making many good adjustments coming out of halftime either. The raw +/- numbers by quarter tell the story.
1st Quarter: -155
2nd Quarter: -28
3rd Quarter: -70
4th Quarter: -2
In Overtime : -5
Total Pt. Differential -260
Games are said to be won and lost in “crunch time,” but 85% of the Knicks point differential this season can be attributed to their play in the first (-3.8 pts per game) and third (-1.7 pts per game) periods. They have been respectable in the 2nd, and have almost broken even in the 4th, perhaps due partly to the large amount of garbage time they have played this season. The simple conclusion I think is that in order to have a better second half to the season, the Knicks should focus on making a better start to each half of every game. Readers I am sure will have plenty of ideas about how they might do that.
My suggestion? Find a new jockey.