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 here.
Knicks lose to Heat, 72 – 75
Pace Eff eFG FT/FG OREB% TOr MIA 84.0 89.3 47.9% 6.8 27.0 20.2 NYK 85.7 39.3% 17.3 26.7 21.4
In a word, this game was ugly. It was a slow, low possession game, but not substantially slower than the 97 – 93 win over the Timberwolves (87 possessions). What made it unbearable was the offensive ineptitude of both teams (and the general ineptitude of the Knicks down the stretch).
The Heat actually did not perform all that much worse than their seaosn averages, as they were 28th in offensive efficiency coming into the game (95.9 points per 100 possessions). One might want to credit the Knicks for at least keeping the Heat off the line and getting their turnovers high. But Miami had been dead last in the league in FTM/FGA coming into the game, and their turnovers seemed to result from sloppiness as much as any defensive pressure by the Knicks.
Still, the fact that Miami did not blow the doors off their previous offensive performances has to be regarded as a small victory for the defensively inept Knicks. Prior to this game, New York’s best defensive performance of the season was holding the rebuilding Timberwolves to 106.9 points per 100 possessions, and their average yield of 114.5 pp100 was second to last in the league. It would be a small miracle for New York to hold another team below 90 pp100 for the rest of the season.
But the story of this game for the Knicks is the sputtering offense. After a very strong showing in the season’s first 3 games had them among the league leaders in offensive efficiency (114.4 pp100), the offense has looked awful in the past two losses to Orlando and Miami. Much of the blame goes to the struggling backcourt. Against Orlando, Marbury, Crawford, and Robinson combined for 10-31 shooting with 13 TOs; tonight, the starting backcourt combined with Mardy Collins to produce 11-33 shooting with 7 TOs (which is worse than it might seem, given the game’s slow pace). The outlook for recovery in the backcourt is not terribly encouraging as Marbury is declining with age, Robinson is hampered with a hamstring injury, and Crawford is as streaky as ever. Losing Richardson to a hyperextended shooting elbow is just the cherry on top.
Worst of all, the Achilles’ Heel of last season’s offense– turnovers– seems to be back in force this season after what seemed like a promising start for the ballhandling. In the last three games, New York has coughed up 19, 19.6, and 21.4 TOs per 100 possessions. Granted that this team is going to be poor defensively, it must compensate with a strong offense to be competitive. But it is very hard to have a strong offense when you’re giving away one fifth of your possessions.
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.