Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pelton On The Knicks

The Heat won and the Celtics lost, which means the Knicks will head to Boston in the first round. The Leprechauns ceded the game, resting four of their elderly starters for the playoffs.

Even in a game that went to overtime, the most interesting spectacle was the quartet of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo sitting on the Boston Celtics’ bench.

The Celtics were making a statement: The Miami Heat can have second place. It wasn’t worth fighting for anymore. Coach Doc Rivers decreed that a few days of rest for his veteran starters would be a bigger priority than trying to climb one rung in the standings in the season’s final days.

Boston’s leftovers made a game of it, losing 95-94 Monday night to the lottery-bound Washington Wizards. The result, along with Miami’s 98-90 win over the Atlanta Hawks, guaranteed that the Heat will be the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference while the Celtics will be No. 3, drawing a first-round playoff matchup with the sixth-seeded New York Knicks.

Rivers said his mind was made up after the Celtics were blown out 100-77 by the Heat on Sunday, a loss that put Boston behind Miami in the race for second. The coach will also sit the bulk of his top players in Wednesday’s regular season finale against the Knicks, giving his veterans a three-day mental break to set them up for three good days of practices Thursday through Saturday before the playoffs start.

Kevin Pelton weighs in on the Knicks best opponent in the playoffs, based on New York’s improved free throw and two point shooting.

One big turnaround New York has made lately has been at the free throw line. During the 10-game down stretch, the Knicks gave up an average of 0.8 more free throws per game than they attempted. In the winning streak, New York has been spending more time at the line, averaging 3.3 more attempts per game than its opponents. Since adding Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks have excelled at drawing fouls, posting the league’s fourth-best ratio of made free throws per field goal attempts.

Miami takes 4.0 more free throws per game than opponents, while the Celtics tend to be more prone to fouling and have a deficit of 0.8 free throw attempts per game this season. Despite Boston’s edge in experience, the Celtics look like the more favorable opponent for the Knicks.

Back in March, Ryan DeGama talked about a Celtics-Knicks series:

  • Key Matchups: Paul Pierce vs. Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudamire vs. Kevin Garnett, Mike D’Antoni’s offense vs Boston’s playoff defense.
  • Best Case Scenario: Boston’s defense unspools the New York offense until ‘Melo and Amare both try to prove they’re the King of New York by jacking up 20 shots apiece. Celtics cruise in four games.
  • Worst Case Scenario: Knicks build chemistry by the playoffs, and ride big city energy to early series lead, forcing Boston to empty the chamber to pull the thing out in 6 or 7 games.
  • Entertainment Factor: Off the charts. Two of the best games of the season have been against New York. Paul Pierce has an ongoing anti-romance with the MSG crowd that could blossom into something deliciously hateful in a playoff environment. Bill Walker could make his triumphant return to sitting on the TD Garden bench in his warmup suit, glowing with untapped upside potential. Media members could regale us with endless stories about New York’s basketball renaissance, followed by cutaways to Isiah Thomas cavorting in a luxury box with James Dolan and Dwight Howard’s extended family. Plus, there’s always the possibility of Mikhail Prokhorov buying up all the in-arena MSG signage to advertise Nets season tickets.
  • Must-watch halftime segment: Charles Barkley accompanies Glen Davis and Shaquille O’Neal on their tour of NYC street food vendors.

68 comments on “Pelton On The Knicks

  1. TDM

    Not for nothing, but if I’m Doc Rivers, I’m not resting my starters against a team that I am facing in the first round of the playoffs. That said, if he does rest his starters, Wednesday’s game is a must-win for the Knicks. Losing to Beantown’s bench would erase any confidence the Knicks have going into the playoffs.

  2. Spree8nyk8

    Typical blogger drivel honestly. Would so much rather read a Hahn or Sheridan article. At least they like the team. And while they may not pick them to win the series, at least they acknowledge the potential to win is there. Boston was the best draw we could have at this point. We match up well with the old geriatric bastards and they are struggling hardcore and these bloggers act like there is zero threat to them. But will be the first to say they “knew there was that possibility” later when it happens. But I guess the fashionable thing is to make the safest pick and list it as the only possibility. Wtg man….fantastic piece /sarcasm

  3. Frank

    TDM:
    Not for nothing, but if I’m Doc Rivers, I’m not resting my starters against a team that I am facing in the first round of the playoffs.That said, if he does rest his starters, Wednesday’s game is a must-win for the Knicks.Losing to Beantown’s bench would erase any confidence the Knicks have going into the playoffs.

    I think it’s likely that Melo, Amare, and Billups all sit on wednesday, and that Toney Douglas probably plays less than 15 minutes. It’ll be the classic Rautins-Walker-Derrick Brown-Extra E – JJ lineup for the most part. They’ll be playing against the Celts B team also. Not sure there is any confidence to be gained or lost.

    I think Amare will probably play 20-25 min tonight, and I wouldn’t risk him or Melo for any more than that. We’ve clinched the 6 seed and a winning record – nothing left to play for. Let’s get rest and stay healthy.

    And I hope that the coaching staff is already gameplanning for Boston. Rivers and his staff are probably already knee deep in film.

  4. TDM

    “I think Amare will probably play 20-25 min tonight”

    Doubt it. The dude is in a boot. He’s not playing.

  5. Frank

    TDM:
    “I think Amare will probably play 20-25 min tonight”

    Doubt it.The dude is in a boot.He’s not playing.

    Only precautionary if they can be believed. By his quotes he doesn’t seem to worried about it. I would hold him out completely until that thing is 100%, and get the rest of him healthy too. They can go hard in scrimmages/practice thu-sat to get his timing back. The only reason I thought he’d play tonight if he could is because it’s the season finale at the Garden.

  6. kburt8

    Awesome stuff from Berman regarding Billups and his preparation for the playoffs. I hope this work ethic rubs off on the rest of the ‘Bockers.

    “Billups, the lone Knick with a championship ring, pores over game film with a fervor that would make most football coaches blush, studying his opponent’s tendencies to the last detail. Soon Billups may be seeing Rajon Rondo in his sleep. Billups forgoes traditional water breaks during practice to shoot extra free throws. He almost always gives a speech in the locker room before each playoff game. ‘It’s just magnified 20 times,’ Billups told The Post about his extra playoff film work. ‘You watch every little thing that your opponent could be doing and try to beat them to the punch, try to know what they’re doing before they make the play. It’s hard to do, but it’s necessary to be as prepared as possible.’ “

  7. d-mar

    @6 pretty cool, Chauncey obviously knows a little bit about the playoffs.

    Do you guys think we’ll see Jeffries on Rondo much? He does bother Rondo with his length, although Boston is so smart defensively they’ll make us pay for playing 4 on 5.

  8. Thomas B.

    I thought Rautins was done for the year with a surgery, is that not the case?

    Anyway, isnt it great to have the Knicks play meaningless games in mid April rather than mid January? I can’t wait to see Sheldon, Shawne,Renaldo, Derrick, and Roger take on Bulls and Celtics’ just good enough not to be in the DL squad.

    Win the next two and we roll into the playoffs on a 9 game streak, which would be our best of the season.

  9. Z

    Last year the celtics were a .500 ball club for the last 2/3rds of the season. They stumbled into the playoffs, losing 7 of their last 10. People thought they were old and tired. Turned out, they were just waiting to flip the switch as they rolled through the eastern conference without facing elimination once.

  10. Spree8nyk8

    Z:
    Last year the celtics were a .500 ball club for the last 2/3rds of the season. They stumbled into the playoffs, losing 7 of their last 10. People thought they were old and tired. Turned out, they were just waiting to flip the switch as they rolled through the eastern conference without facing elimination once.

    And in 1999 the Knicks stumbled into the playoffs with a team that was better than their seed. This team has a lot better chance of being like 99’s knicks than Boston does of being like last years team.

  11. Frank

    Z:
    Last year the celtics were a .500 ball club for the last 2/3rds of the season. They stumbled into the playoffs, losing 7 of their last 10. People thought they were old and tired. Turned out, they were just waiting to flip the switch as they rolled through the eastern conference without facing elimination once.

    This celtics team is definitely a different animal than last year. They still had that “we’ve never lost a series with our actual starting 5″ mentality, and of course, the big 3 there are all a year older now. You can say “flip the switch” and all, but it cannot be good for confidence to get absolutely dominated by the Heat and Bulls (although both of them were on the road). Since the trade they are only 5-7 against playoff teams. By comparison, the NYK are 7-6 against playoff teams since the trade despite all the “gelling” that had to take place.

    I dunno – something makes me feel like they wanted to play us, which always makes me nervous. All 3 games HAVE been quite competitive though, so I think we have a reasonable chance to pull this off.

  12. Garson

    This is a very intresting series in a way where we know what the Celtics are going to bring…but have no idea what we are capable of.

    Can Amare turn on his playoff “beast mode”?
    Will Melo play defense on Pierce on a consistant basis?
    Will billups be “mr big shot” or “mr pullup from 3, miss and kill our offense”?
    How will Douglass and Landry adjust to playoff basketball?

    Truth is, I have no clue what we will bring, but am very excited to find out… Bottom line is if 3 of 4 of the above end in a positive note we can absolutely stun some people and do it in convincing fashion.

  13. Jafa

    Frank:I dunno – something makes me feel like they wanted to play us, which always makes me nervous.All 3 games HAVE been quite competitive though, so I think we have a reasonable chance to pull this off.

    I think Doc was trying to save his guys another psychological failure by pulling the plug instead of having them lose the battle for the 2nd seed to Miami. They already seem out of sorts mentally from the trade, and seeing teams dominate them in the paint must not do their ego any favors (especially a team that prided itself on shutting down opponents in the paint). This way, instead of dwelling on more losses to end the season, they can chalk it up to their back-ups playing major minutes and focus on re-energizing themselves for the playoffs.

    Also, with the way they manhandled Philadelphia last week, I don’t think they would have minded playing the 76ers one bit.

  14. Frank

    Found this site after Haberstroh tweeted it:

    http://sportvuhoops.stats.com/

    Now that’s what I’m talking about. Real breakdown of shots, since not all 3’s, mid range, long 2s, and shots at the rim are the same. I hope this stuff is being used at MSG.

  15. outoftowner

    Just looking at Boston’s team stats, they are elite in every aspect of the game except offensive rebounding. They are dead last in ORR, and there’s a huge gap between them and team #29. Its enough to drag them down to #19 in offensive efficiency, even though they are #7 in TS%.

    Its not likely they’re just a bad rebounding team, since they’re #8 in DRR. I’d guess that Doc Rivers sends his players back on defense early rather than going for the offensive rebound, in effect sacrificing offense for defense. Van Gundy used to do that too when he coached the Knicks. So their vaunted defense might not be as stalwart as just looking at defensive efficiency would indicate. (Just like the Knicks’ stats are kind of skewed since D’Antoni knowingly sacrifices defense for offense by doing things like starting Shawne Williams at center).

    But, at any rate, since defensive rebounding is the Knicks’ biggest weakness, it should be neutralized somewhat in this series.

  16. Mike Kurylo Post author

    Sorry Frank, but I have to bring this up from a few days ago:

    In any case, that wasn’t my point. My point is that no matter what statistical measure you might like to use, blanket statements like “Study, after study, after study shows a player’s per minute production to stay the same despite how many minutes they play” are gross generalizations. In something as inexact as individual stats in a team sport, some players will always do better, some the same, and some worse when given more minutes (except probably free throws, which are a decidedly individual stat). I agree that there is no overall trend towards better or worse, but that is a very different statement than “production will stay the same” no matter how many minutes are played.

    Maybe I should have said “Study, after study, after study, shows that per minute production is more likely to remain constant no matter how many minutes they play.”

    BTW for anyone that thinks Neil’s study (http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=9206) is indicative that per-minute stats aren’t extremely valuable, look at his results again. He just takes the top 5 most and least improved. But look at the range in which the production changed.

    Increase Top 5: +7.4, +7.2, +6.1, +6.1, +6.1
    Decrease Top 5: -5.2, -4.1, -4.0, -3.8, -3.7

    See a difference between the two? Neil lists the top 10 in each, and the 10th most improved (Eric Murdock, 1993 +5.7) has deviated from his average more than the highest decrease (-5.2)!

    Are per minute stats going to remain exactly constant over the course of a player’s career? No. Are they very likely to stay the same (or improve) with greater minutes? Yes.

  17. Frank

    Jafa:
    So when do we start posting predictions?

    Knicks in 6.

    My heart says Knicks in 6 but my brain says Celts in 7. Funny thing though – with Amare, Billups, and Melo, we are not lacking for playoff experience, so I think even a game 7 in Boston is winnable.

    Will be an interesting chess match re: our offense vs. their defense. Garnett really anchors their PnR (and interior) defense, and presumably will be matched up with Amare. A small lineup with Extra E and Amare at the 4/5 would force one of the O’Neal brothers to cover Extra E in the corner, or to pin Garnett away from the rim. I also wonder whether Amare might shoot some more 3’s. Small sample but he is 10-23 from 3 this year, good for 43.5%. It would completely change the series if Amare could hit something close to 40% from 3 on 2-3 attempts per game.

    In general I haven’t been a fan of playing Shawne at the 5, but imagine the stress on a defense with 3-pt shooters like:

    Billups (40%)
    Fields (39.4%)
    Melo (43.7% with us)
    Amare (43.5%)
    Shawne (40.9%)

    We’d get destroyed on the boards but talk about increasing variance with 3 point shooting.

  18. Frank

    Mike Kurylo:
    Sorry Frank, but I have to bring this up from a few days ago:

    Maybe I should have said “Study, after study, after study, shows that per minute production is more likely to remain constant no matter how many minutes they play.”

    BTW for anyone that thinks Neil’s study (http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=9206) is indicative that per-minute stats aren’t extremely valuable, look at his results again. He just takes the top 5 most and least improved. But look at the range in which the production changed.

    Increase Top 5: +7.4, +7.2, +6.1, +6.1, +6.1
    Decrease Top 5: -5.2, -4.1, -4.0, -3.8, -3.7

    See a difference between the two? Neil lists the top 10 in each, and the 10th most improved (Eric Murdock, 1993 +5.7) has deviated from his average more than the highest decrease (-5.2)!

    Are per minute stats going to remain exactly constant over the course of a player’s career? No. Are they very likely to stay the same (or improve) with greater minutes? Yes.

    Fair enough – I think what we really need are standard deviations on these studies. If the data looks like average or median change in PER is 0.5 and the SD is 0.1 then I’d be far more likely to believe it. But if you look at Neal Paine’s scatterplot, it looks much more haphazard than that. The Kubatko study you link to on the layman’s guide page has middle 50% which is useful. FYI – the other two links are broken.

  19. Jafa

    Frank,

    Great breakdown. In our previous match ups with the Celtics, I believe Perkins was on Amare. While I think KG will do a good job defensively, how much will this series change if Amare can get him into foul trouble? Also, with Melo, we have another guy who can bully his way into the paint and finish. If those two attack the paint area consistently, I can see them having success the same way Chicago and Miami did recently.

    Love the fact that our 3 point shooting could kill them. It could also open up tons of room for STAT to operate down low. And we could run them out of the building too by consistently pushing the tempo (man I miss Felton for this) and forcing any one of the O’Neals to have to run back on D (advantage us).

    I picked us in 6 because I don’t think we can beat them in a Game 7 in their house. Too much at stake, too much playoff experience and too much history for them to crumble in that game. Although we could pull a Magic on them and beat them in a Game 7. Also, Mike Vick was the first to beat the Greenbay Packers in the playoffs at home so anything is possible.

  20. Spree8nyk8

    The sports world would like to put the Celtics out there as big time favorites because of their run last year. Well that run was special, it was the exception and not the rule. It was a team catching fire at the right time and not a team that was flipping the switch. The Celtics are reeling because they made a piss poor trade, and not because they are simply holding back for the playoffs. I think the Knicks are better than their record just like they were in 99 and I think hope is going to turn into belief very quickly in this series.

  21. latke

    Thomas B.: I can’t wait to see Sheldon, Shawne,Renaldo, Derrick, and Roger take on Bulls and Celtics’ just good enough not to be in the DL squad.

    especially since nutzo thibodeau will probably still play derrick rose and luol deng 38 minutes just so they won’t “get soft mentally” because he has no trust in his team.

  22. Jafa

    Funny, Ryan DeGama’s take from the main post is so indicative of a homer:

    “# Best Case Scenario: Boston’s defense unspools the New York offense until ‘Melo and Amare both try to prove they’re the King of New York by jacking up 20 shots apiece. Celtics cruise in four games.
    # Worst Case Scenario: Knicks build chemistry by the playoffs, and ride big city energy to early series lead, forcing Boston to empty the chamber to pull the thing out in 6 or 7 games.”

    2 things: First, the worst case scenario isn’t Boston winning in 6-7 games, its Boston losing in 4 games. That is the absolute worst case scenario, analogous to the best case scenario of Boston winning in 4 games. Second, the worst case scenario seems to be unraveling as the Knicks are build chemistry coming into the playoffs (along with winning) and will riding big city energy into the playoffs.

    Here’s a post from Bill Simmons’ (a serious Celtics homer) latest NBA power poll column to round it out: “Every Celtics fan is in “last year, we wrote them off and we made the Finals” mode. Which is fine. That’s what you do when you’re grieving. You make excuses.”

  23. gabriel

    Frank very interesting line-up with extra e at center Because that would cause fits for the plodding o’neals. However, the first time i see the oneals grab three offensive rebounds in one possession i would get EXTREMELY, EXTREMELY one more time EXTREMELY NERVOUS. Because we have seen the likes of jj hickson and tyler hansborough look like Moses Malone and charles barkley against our interior defense. However, if extra e find his touch consistently from 3 again, then my friend we will be a serious problem for the boston celtics. Very interesting strategy frank.

  24. Frank

    gabriel:
    Frank very interesting line-up with extra e at center Because that would cause fits for the plodding o’neals.However, the first time i see the oneals grab three offensive rebounds in one possession i would get EXTREMELY, EXTREMELY one more time EXTREMELY NERVOUS.Because we have seen the likes of jj hickson and tyler hansborough look like Moses Malone and charles barkley against our interior defense.However, if extra e find his touch consistently from 3 again, then my friend we will be a serious problem for the boston celtics.Very interesting strategy frank.

    appreciate it, but it’s not like i thought this strategy up. =) D’Antoni’s been running similar lineups all year — ie. against Orlando I think Shawne played a lot at the 5 to try and take DH away from the rim. I just think it would be a fun lineup to trot out there for 10-15 min/game.

    We definitely need to run even if they are back on D, just to force J and S O’neal to at least run down the court.

  25. TDM

    Frank: Only precautionary if they can be believed. By his quotes he doesn’t seem to worried about it. I would hold him out completely until that thing is 100%, and get the rest of him healthy too. They can go hard in scrimmages/practice thu-sat to get his timing back. The only reason I thought he’d play tonight if he could is because it’s the season finale at the Garden.

    Amare is out tonight and likely out Wednesday.

    http://www.northjersey.com/sports/pro_sports/basketball/knicks/041211_Stoudemire_out_tonight_against_Chicago_unlikely_vs_Boston.html

  26. Nick C.

    Since this is a Knicks board: Knicks in 6. The Perkins trade still mades absolutely no sense from a basketball persepective. Then take Miami in 5 and sweep Atlanta before blowing out the Knuggets in 4 straight despite 40ppg on 3 shots/pg from Gallo and Mozgov averaging 23/9, Lawson and Nene shoot a combined 17/92 with 31 TO causing Felton to start game 4 and go 14/23 for 38 points.

    In all seriousness I think the Knicks have a good shot at taking out the Celtins which pre-Perkins trade I would not have though, but then again they probably would not be the 3 seed.

  27. gabriel

    Another issue, that scares me with Boston is at the 2 guard position. fields foot speed has really been exposed the second half of the year. with ray allen doing his Richard Hamilton impression as far as coming of picks, i think can be disastrous formula for the Knicks. Mr. Shuttleworth can be the one who hurts us the most with his 3point shooting. Especially if our defensive rotations are not on point, which we do see happening even during our win streak. I hope D’antoni REALLY works on our def. rotations especially on the weak side off the pick and roll.

  28. Frank

    gabriel:
    Another issue,that scares me with Boston is at the 2 guard position.fields foot speed has really been exposed the second half of the year.with ray allen doing his Richard Hamilton impression as far as coming of picks, i think can be disastrous formula for the Knicks.Mr. Shuttleworth can be the one who hurts us the most with his 3point shooting.Especially if our defensive rotations are not on point, which we do see happening even during our win streak.I hope D’antoni REALLY works on our def. rotations especially on the weak side off the pick and roll.

    Will be interesting to see how D’Antoni spreads around the guard minutes and responsibilities. I’d almost rather leave Billups and Fields on Rondo and his no-confidence jumper, and use our ballhawks (Carter and Douglas) to chase Allen around. I think we’ll probably see some amount of JJ on Rondo also.

  29. Frank

    Interesting to look at the 4 factors for our matchup with Boston.
    One thing that stands out is the turnover story:

    – Boston is #3 in the league in forcing turnovers at a 14.83 rate
    – We are #5 in the league in committing the fewest turnovers – and actually, it feels as if we have been much better than that lately.

    Given that Boston is LAST in the league in offensive rebounds (by design), if we can keep ourselves to 12-13 turnovers/game, we should be able to keep their shot attempts to a minimum. We’ve also been doing a much better job not fouling shooters lately.

    On the other end — Boston is 5th WORST at committing turnovers (TO-R of 14.8) and we are 9th BEST at forcing turnovers (13.9 TO-R forced).

    I’m actually feeling better and better about this matchup.

    Our biggest weakness (Defensive rebounding) is also their biggest weakness (offensive rebounding) and so that should hopefully not be a glaring problem for us.

    Their biggest strength (opponent’s field-goal%) is also our strength (offensive efficiency) – obviously the last 4th quarter where Melo and Amare were both scoreless was not good, but that was also in the midst of our worst basketball of the year.

  30. stratomatic

    IMO you almost have to look at Per 36 minute stats in order to equalize the players in terms of productivity per minute. However, I don’t think it’s a perfectly valid way of comparing what players would actually do in 36 minutes. It’s very good, but not perfect.

    To begin with, a lot of old players purposely have their minutes reduced and get the day off on back to back games in order to keep them productive over the course of the season “per minute”. Without that rest, they would break down or wear down.

    Could you imagine Shaq getting 36 minutes a night now if he was healthy?

    There’s a reason Duncan is also getting fewer minutes as he ages.

    On the flip side, rookies are generally given more minutes as they demonstrate they can handle the load of a long season, more traveling, longer minutes etc…. Before that, they are limited as soon as their productively per minute starts to fall.

    Some players (like Turiaf, Birdman and others) are considered high energy players. They play at an extremely intense level for 20 minutes, but no one could sustain that pace for 36 minutes even if they were healthy.

    Finally, there just HAS TO be some difference between getting minutes against an opponent’s starting 5 and getting your minutes exclusively in garbage time. To think otherwise is to say that the quality of play is equal at both extremes or that quality of opponent doesn’t impact a players stats. Both seem preposterous.

    If some studies suggest otherise, they must not be controlling for all these things properly even if they are trying to do so.

    Granted, these things will not have a huge impact in most cases. In fact, that’s what makes it so hard to isolate. But it has to be there.

    All else being equal, I’d take the guy who is actually playing 36 minutes over the guy whose 10-15 minutes coming off the bench is being calcuated at 36 minutes every time.

  31. stratomatic

    I think we are clearly catching Boston at the perfect time.

    Their point differential is much higher with either Perkins or Shaq in the lineup than without either. They didn’t have both of them for most of the season, but they had one of the two most of the time until the trade. So it’s easy to see how much better they were when they were healthy. I can’t see how Shaq is going to be a major contributor in the first round.

    Other than that, they are 1 year older and the Knicks seem to be jelling into the moderately better team most envisioned after the trade.

    That’s the thing about the Knicks trade.

    Most that were against it (myself included) were against it because we gave up a lot of cap space for what we thought was an overrated player, because we gave up some long term upside from young players, because there were probably better uses of the cap space, because it didn’t fill a specific need etc…

    I don’t recall anyone saying we were going to be a worse team in the short term.

    I think we are a better team right now than we were. Maybe not by a lot or by enough to justify the trade, but we are better. So this series could be very competitive.

  32. Leffty

    I agree, that Boston is really beatable now. This is the perfect time to catch them, with their front line banged up and their old players (read: everybody except Rondo) starting to get tired. They’ve lost three of four and have the same record as the Knicks in the last 26 games. The Knicks will have trouble with the Celtics’ size and experience, but STAT and Melo can step up and make a difference. Check out this statistical breakdown of the series:

    http://sportstatistics.blogspot.com/2011/04/nba-playoff-preview-round-1-3-boston.html

    We also have a prediction and a discussion of why the current seven-game winnig streak is so important.

  33. Thomas B.

    Mulligan:

    Have you all seen this clip of Von Wafer from last night’s game? Hilarious. What season was it that a bunch of us were pissed we didn’t sign him instead of some other schlub? And who was that schlub?

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Video-Von-Wafer-screws-up-everything?urn=nba-342926

    Von Wafer was picked up by the Rockets three years ago, and I wanted the Knicks to pick him up for the season rather than Anthony Roberson. In spite of how silly Von Wafer may be now, in 08-09 he was much better than Roberson. Wafer put up .107 WS/48 which makes him average in the NBA. Roberson put up a WS/48 of .0057 (that really stinks). He shot okay from the floor TS% 54.1 eFG% 51. Should we have offered a 5 year deal? Of course not, but for the 08-09 season, he was much better than the 2s on our roster. Just to remind you, Robinson, Hughes, Crawford, and Roberson made up the core of SGs. The point was Duhon. You don’t think in 08-09 we could have used some help in the backcourt? We had Wafer in over the summer, but Donnie picked Roberson. Big mistake. I dont see the point of looking at what he did now as a reason not to give him a 1 year deal three years ago.

  34. flossy

    @37: Per-minute All-Star Anthony Randolph is a good case in point. I will definitely cop to some summertime fantasizing about his 17 points/11 rebounds/2.5 blocks per-36 numbers from Golden State. But obviously extrapolating that kind of production doesn’t always work out.

    I think in general, if a player can play 36 minutes per game at a high level in the NBA he will. If he can’t—for any of a wide variety of reasons—it’s probably foolhardy to say “well this 15mpg wunderkind may put up Hall of Fame numbers if we play him starter’s minutes. Chances are… there was a reason said wunderkind was only getting 15 minutes per night.

  35. Frank O.

    I have been fighting myself for a day or so about the Knicks Celtics match up. I wonder are my thoughts about the Knicks just hopeful?
    But now I’m pretty sure I’m not just a homer.
    If I’m the Celtics, the last team I want to see in the 1st round is the Knicks. First of all, I’m still pissed that Perkins got traded because Shaq can hardly move and KG can’t sustain great play on both sides of the court over a seven game series. I know my teammates also are down on the trade and the new guys aren’t fitting in very well. Team energy is down. The defense isn’t as tough. Just not feeling that confident.
    When you get old, you can’t just throw the switch. Plus, the Knicks are a hot team, fast and hot, and they’ll be a nightmare to defend.
    Their three best players are all playoff-tested stars. Billups simply won’t be flustered. Amare in the playoffs is one of the most imposing forwards in the game, and Carmelo…is actually a lot better right now than he has been all season long.
    It’s quite apparent from the film, that the Knicks are playing better team defense, although still only in spurts. I’d be concerned that they appear to be figuring it out defensively, and their offense is just friggin’ nasty to defend. The ball moves quicker than we can rotate and the big three are shooting a pretty high percentage. And even when our D reacts well, all three top guys draw a lot of fouls.
    Let’s face it, we’re going to be in the penalty the entire series.
    What is most concerning is the emergence of TD, who does what TD does, which is to say he’s hit more 3 pt shots since the trade deadline than any other player in basketball, period.
    And if Melo continues to stretch the defense with his much improved 3 pt shooting, he will be virtually unguardable. When we collapse on him, there’s Amare…alone.
    No. If I’m the Celts, I pray to get to game 7 at home. Even then, we may not have the horses, or the horses are too old, to deliver.

  36. Mulligan

    Thomas B.: Von Wafer was picked up by the Rockets three years ago, and Iwanted the Knicks to pick him up for the season rather than Anthony Roberson.In spite of how silly Von Wafer may be now, in 08-09 he was much better than Roberson. Wafer put up .107 WS/48 which makes him average in the NBA. Roberson put up a WS/48 of .0057 (that really stinks).He shot okay from the floor TS% 54.1 eFG% 51.Should we have offered a 5 year deal? Of course not, but for the 08-09 season, he was much better than the 2s on our roster.Just to remind you, Robinson, Hughes, Crawford, and Roberson made up the core of SGs. The point was Duhon.You don’t think that in 2008-09 we could have used some help in the backcourt?We had Wafer in over the summer, but Donnie picked Roberson.Big mistake.I dont see the point of looking at what he did now as a reason not to give him a 1 year deal three years ago.

    I didn’t quite mean it like that, Thomas. I mean, we collectively have the same conversation about end of bench players every year and there’s usually some more productive player that some other organization picks up and we all feel vaguely pissed about that. I was more trying to connect that ridiculous clip to the Knicks in some way..

    BUT, if I were to generalize from one 20 second sequence, it seems to me that Von Wafer is more of an asshole than a competent NBA player. He’s like a less talented Eddie House, and Eddie House is seriously shitty. I didn’t even like him when he was Knick.

  37. stratomatic

    Frank O,

    Melo’s 3 point shooting has been a huge upside surprise so far. It changes everything if he can sustain something around a 40% clip.

    Historically he hasn’t been very good, but he has been improving with time.

    Perhaps making it more of a focus of his practice time, shooting more of them in games, and possibly even getting superior advanced stats from D’Antoni on where he’s good and where’s not (something the coach does look at) are all leading to a much better outcome.

    If so, he’s going to become a much more efficient scorer on the same high usage and also help create space for Amare. That’s a game changer because then we have a legitimate super star on offense at SF that fits the system.

    I’ll be the first to eat crowe if he can hit 40% of his 3s on a sustained basis and raise his TS% closer to 60%. Some upside to his TS% was probable given that D’Antoni is such a great coach on offense, but up in the 58%-60% range generates some serious value at his level of usage.

  38. Mulligan

    Also, I wouldn’t exactly call it a “big mistake.” More like, a bad decision with little consequence. Whoever we signed would have been traded with Big Snacks for Larry Hughes and he probably wouldn’t have played more than a handful of minutes.

  39. alsep73

    Wasn’t Sweetney also a per-minute all-star type? I seem to remember his #’s looked great when stretched out that way; the problem was that he was in such poor shape that he could never stay on the court for very long, either because he just ran out of gas, because his slowness got him into foul trouble, or both.

    Obviously, most NBA players are much better-conditioned than Sweetney, but I remember his struggles with the Bulls as one of the first times I started to question the per-minute idea.

  40. Thomas B.

    Mulligan:

    I didn’t quite mean it like that, Thomas. I mean, we collectively have the same conversation about end of bench players every year and there’s usually some more productive player that some other organization picks up and we all feel vaguely pissed about that. I was more trying to connect that ridiculous clip to the Knicks in some way..

    Well, at least you backed it up with stats. Anyway, Wafer is a bit different in that he was on our summer team that year. We saw what he could do next to Roberson, who to his credit played well over the Summer. Heck if we had Wafer playing the way he did for Houston instead of Roberson playing the way he did for us, we probably would not have needed to trade for Hughes.

  41. Jafa

    Just took a look back at our October 27 Season Preview poll:

    Out of 305 respondent, 48% of bloggers on this blog picked to Knicks to win 40-42 games (142 people) while 22% of bloggers (including me) picked them to win 43-46 games. If they win one of these last 2 games, I can boast about getting a prediction right with this team for the first time on this blog (after I blew it for 2009-10 – I said they’d win like 35 games).

    Also feels good to know that about 70% of us on the blog know what were talking about.

  42. outoftowner

    flossy:
    @37: Per-minute All-Star Anthony Randolph is a good case in point.I will definitely cop to some summertime fantasizing about his 17 points/11 rebounds/2.5 blocks per-36 numbers from Golden State.But obviously extrapolating that kind of production doesn’t always work out.

    AR is still putting up great per minute stats in Minnesota. We don’t know what he could do in 36 actual minutes because no one’s given him a chance yet.

  43. Robert Silverman

    TDM:
    Nice work Mike.Did they ban Robert Silverberg from participating after only one outing?

    Nah. Plenty of scribes in the KB pen. Everyone should get a shot on the Mothership

  44. dsulz

    If the Knicks take it to 7 I would be psyched. But realistically, the most likely scenario is the Celts win this series in 5 games. That would be disappointing, but however much teams “don’t want to face us” the fact is that we have some serious holes in our system and our record more or less indicates how good a team we are (we’re two games over .500 with Melo, and coincidentally were also two games over .500 before Melo). Celtics in 6 is a respectable showing, in my opinion. As for the Knicks winning the series, I haven’t been able to find any betting odds for this series yet, but my guess is 1/8 odds for Knicks winning the series to be about right.

    But for my fan prediction: Knicks in 6, closin’ it out at the Gahhhden!

  45. Spree8nyk8

    I just don’t see anything about that team that is scary or daunting. I think they are the most overrated team in the playoffs this year. Yeah so what, they had a nice run at it last year. This year they made a bad trade and it hurt the chemistry of the team and they choked away the first seed and the second seed because of it. Eff Boston, we are gonna rape this team. I still stick to it.

    Knicks in 4

  46. flossy

    outoftowner: AR is still putting up great per minute stats in Minnesota.We don’t know what he could do in 36 actual minutes because no one’s given him a chance yet.

    Yeah, even in Minny he is not getting more than 20 mpg. Because he is too much of a liability to leave on the court for 36 minutes, even for a team with nothing to lose.

  47. outoftowner

    flossy: Yeah, even in Minny he is not getting more than 20 mpg.Because he is too much of a liability to leave on the court for 36 minutes, even for a team with nothing to lose.

    Yea I agree. I just don’t think he’s a good datapoint for the do-stats-scale-with-minutes argument since his minutes have never scaeld up.

  48. outoftowner

    BTW, as the flipside of Carmelo’s TS% renaissance since entering D’Antoni’s system, the pre- and post-trade TS% of the guys we traded:

    Wilson Chandler: .548 –> .497
    Raymond Felton: .524 –> .523
    Danilo Gallinari: .600 –> .587

    Small sample size, but preliminarily it does seem like guys just shoot better in the D’Antoni system.

    Other datapoints:
    Al Harrington .546 –> .528
    David Lee .584 –> .550

    Counterexample:
    Chauncey Billups .634 –> .586

  49. Brian Cronin

    David Lee .584 –> .550

    Lee never had a TS% under .600 until his years with D’Antoni, which also, of course, came with an increased Usage Rate that certainly explains why it went down. So it’s not like D’Antoni is responsible for it dropping, but he sure wasn’t responsible for it being high.

  50. Brian Cronin

    I look forward to Melo and Billups fully embracing SSOL, in which case Melo’s TS% might very well hit .60 and STAT’s TS% will get better, as well.

  51. daJudge

    Good one Robert at #54. I had them winning at least 43 and I have a pride wager with my court attorney. We have wagered over/under for six years running and I have never won. Perhaps this year.

  52. latke

    I pick the knicks in 2. We will dominate the celtics so badly that midway through game two they will start shooting on their own basket just so they can remember what it feels like to put the ball in the basket. Amare Stoudemire will block these shots as well, completing a a quadruple double (assists, blocks, rebounds, points) with about 7 minutes to play in the 3rd. After the game, Delonte West will convince the entire team to concede and go on a cruise with his psychologist and LeBron James’ mother.

  53. flossy

    Brian Cronin:
    I look forward to Melo and Billups fully embracing SSOL, in which case Melo’s TS% might very well hit .60 and STAT’s TS% will get better, as well.

    If Melo puts up a TS% of .600 next year while maintaining his career average USG% of 31.2 (or even his Knicks average of 31.0) he’ll join Jordan (four times) and LeBron, Durant, and Karl Malone (once each) as the only players ever to do that in the 3 point era. As a Melo trade sceptic I would be eating crow and looooving it if that happened.

  54. Brian Cronin

    It would be awesome. It also would hopefully show more people just how great SSOL is an offensive system.

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