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36 replies on “Knicks Morning News (2023.01.11)”
The question of whether is a correlation between blowing big leads and playoff performance is interesting. Maybe “fake comeback” stats as well.
I mean it’s pretty obvious that having a combo of talent and experience is needed to consistently hold on to big leads, and to execute in late game situations where intensity is ramped up. The Bucks had more talent and experience on the floor in the 4th quarter than we did. So will most of the teams we are likely to face in the first round. That’s why I doubt that this team makes it out of the first round…and that it won’t be a coaching thing as much as a talent/experience differential.
The shooting from 3 is so amazingly good across the league that a leas of 20 points is just a few empty possessions from being whittled down to something like 7 or 8, and if there’s more than a minute left, that isn’t insurmountable at all.
Early Bird, I think it’s a reasonable hypothesis (for those not paying attention, late discussion on last thread about how many teams cough up double digit leads these days, not just Knicks — EB suggests it could be a mark of bad playoff play down the line).
Holding onto big leads suggests that a team doesn’t lose focus, or start to crumble when the opponent goes on the inevitable run. And/or go away from what’s been working, on offense or defense. And/or responds to a run by correctly altering what they were doing to stop the bleeding.
The Knicks aren’t very good at that (sign me up for are terrible at it). But interesting that so many other teams are, too.
Me from last thread for context:
I wonder if crunchtime performance during the season predicts playoff success since it mimics the more intense defense of the playoffs, or at least predicts it relative to record.
Maybe the board is stuck in the doldrums of pretty much knowing exactly who we are.
In some sense this Pacers match-up is a measuring stick, but I don’t think it’d surprise anyone if both teams are on par with one another the rest of the way. I’m guessing that’s where most of us think we’re at.
I’m not reading that clickbait article at the top of the morning news feed, but the Cam hive’s resilience is really something else. Since he played his last game for the Knicks we’re 12-6 and have the 3rd best net rating in the league. Guess they think we’d be 18-0 if only we let Cam cook.
Our trade pitch to other teams should be that you can bench Cam and turn your moribund season around.
“I wonder if crunchtime performance during the season predicts playoff success since it mimics the more intense defense of the playoffs, or at least predicts it relative to record.”
ptmilo bat signal
Is there any doubt that this is one of the craziest seasons in NBA history? Multiple 50 point performances (including 71 by Mitchell), absurd blown leads at the end of games (Mavs vs. us, Raptors overcoming a 16 point deficit with 1:30 left vs the Bucks) Jokic’s ridiculous box scores…
And then last night, Jimmy Butler scores 35 points with 6 FG and the Heat go 40-40 from the FT line in a 1 point win over OKC
Either these close losses will give us experience and maybe come the playoffs we’re better equipped to handle these situations? I mean, with some of these losses literally one or two made free throws would have made the difference.
Or it’s just an indication that we can’t handle these situations (yet).
I don’t really remember us blowing late game leads leading up to the 2021 playoff series against Atlanta, especially during that hot win streak down the stretch that secured us the 4th seed. So maybe we’ll have some experience in these playoffs and be able to handle it. But also, if we’re the 6th, 7th or 8th seed, we’re facing a team that is clearly better than us, so losing in the first round shouldn’t be surprising although I’m sure it will be definitive proof to some that Thibs is a shitty coach and Randle is a choker. 🙂
If we’re a lower seed, I just want us to be competitive and take it to at least 6. To me, that would be a successful playoff experience especially if we’re facing Boston or The Bucks.
Double digits lead seems to few parameters to me. Double digits when? In the 4th or in the previous quarters? And how many times did the team come back from double digits? To see if the record on those games is balanced or not.
As much as we sometimes lament our basic offense, with BRunson our offense is better than 2 years ago when we were the 4th seed. But our defense, while good and getting better, is not as good as it was that season. So it kind of makes sense that we can get ahead of teams but not close out. As opposed to 2 seasons ago where we won by literally grinding it out all game.
Cam the new Theo Pinson
“Holding onto big leads suggests that a team doesn’t lose focus, or start to crumble when the opponent goes on the inevitable run. And/or go away from what’s been working, on offense or defense. And/or responds to a run by correctly altering what they were doing to stop the bleeding.”
This sort of assumes a static playing field where results are all about focus and keeping on doing what worked before.
But in truth, there’s a lot more to it than that. Teams can just start missing the shots they were making all game without any dropoff in focus. Coaches and players respond to what their opponents are doing, actively trying to disrupt flow and execution. For example, they might double a hot shooter, or press in the backcourt, or change defensive assignments, or attack a vulnerability.
And when playing a clearly superior team that has a matchup advantage at several positions, it becomes a matter of picking your poison. Julius Randle is not going to generate the same defensive attention that Giannis is, so it’s less likely that a Fournier would be sucked so far into the paint as he was, and having Pat Connaughton waiting in the corner is different than having Grimes or IQ there. and even if Fournier hedges better, Giannis has Lopez, Allen, and Jrue to defer to.
And that’s what usually happens in the first round of the playoffs to teams like the Knicks. Even though teams are both hyper-focused and have options, they just can’t execute enough to match the better team’s execution.
Atlanta got healthy late and went on a tear. They went to the conference finals, so, despite E’s fixation on that series, we maybe just lost to a much better team.
Not sure crunchtime would necessarily predict that series.
I agree that crunch time is a good indicator of how the team will fare in the playoffs. If this website can be trusted, the Knicks are .500 on close games.
Problem: We’re ahead of Cleveland, which is good, and then we’re only ahead of Chicago (10th), Toronto (11th) and Washington (12th), but those teams probably won’t make the playoffs. We’re behind all the other teams that might make the playoffs in the east, including Miami and Atlanta that are behind us in the standings.
I definitely do not buy the idea that Randle and/or Brunson are tired.
Yes, they play a lot of minutes. But Randle is actually like 27th in the league in minutes played per game. Giannis, Luka, Tatum…and many others play more minutes per game than he does. So either they don’t get tired (can’t be true…Randle is in fantastic shape). Or they have better supporting cast (probably true) or they’re just a notch above Randle is the star category (also probably true).
I’m reasonably confident in several things.
1. An NBA game is more like a 1 mile race than a 100 yard dash. Players know they can’t go all out 100% of the time. They play hard, but they are more selective about that real all out effort.
2. There are times teams try to make a serious run to take control of a game or put the game away (like the start of the game, start of the 2nd half), but it’s the 4th quarter where they more consistently go all out as long as the game is within reach.
3. The ability to execute at a high level down the stretch is obviously mostly about skills, but it’s also about experience and individual ability to handle pressure. The latter becomes progressively more important as the games get more important. That’s always going to be an individual thing, but the more you play under extreme pressure the better you will get at handling it until you eventually burn out when your nerves are fried.
4. Having that GO TO #1 option that can create for himself and handle the pressure is critical late.
5. I think the Knicks failed to execute late at least once because Brunson was hurt. Both his skill and calmness were missing.
Another possibility (and this is just a wild ass guess) is that Thibs asks so much of these guys almost every minute of the game, they tend to open up leads because they are playing harder per minute than the other team early. But then when the other team steps it up a notch in the 4th, the Knicks have already exhausted some of their excess reserves and either can’t match it or actually slow down.
I think there’s something to the notion that certain coaches max out their teams during the regular season, then don’t have another level to go to in the playoffs. The 2020-21 Knicks seemed like that kind of team. This year’s version might have more upside because the players are younger and who knows what they will be capable of in the playoffs? But probably not much more than we’re seeing right now…a team that runs out of options against better teams.
Dallas was one of the teams blowing more big leads than us, so the usage might be affecting Luka quite a bit.
Giannis has Lopez & Jrue to shutdown opponents in crunchtime. Wonder what their offensive fg% is, especially with Middleton out for most the year so far.
Fwiw, I also think Randle & Brunson work harder for their points than most players. A lot of post-ups and few blow-bys. Then again neither play and defense.
Randle presses a lot in crunchtime. Maybe he should take more of the pull up 3s at the end of games. It’s what works for him in the 1Q so well. Probably not last play, but last 2 minutes it should even out in theory.
Wow, going 40 for 40 at the free throw line is pretty amazing, setting a new NBA record for that.
Not Boston. Losing to Boston can never be considered successful.
is that Thibs asks so much of these guys almost every minute of the game, they tend to open up leads because they are playing harder per minute than the other team early.
I don’t really buy this idea that Thibs asks so much more of his team in the regular season than other coaches.
So if other teams open up big leads and lose late (which happens to teams besides the knicks) are they opening up the leads bc they’re trying harder too or are they just more talented that our Knicks who only ever win because of Thibs asking for herculean effort all game every game?
Thibs has softened quite a bit from his Chicago days. A lot of the things that are associated with him are either overblown or don’t really apply to him as much anymore. I mean, if any player playing under Thibs tweaks an ankle or pulls a hamstring, there is a sizable amount of Knicks fans who immediately post about how Thibs is wearing them down.
Is any team that is good at defense a team that tries super hard every game in the regular season or is it just Thibs teams?
I’m not even saying that these Thibs tendencies aren’t sometimes true, just that I think they’re kind of overblown and I don’t think tiredness is really an excuse for losing late games. When Thibs coached Chicago with Rose, Noah, etc…did they have a reputation for blowing leads late? Nope. But they were also a much more talented team than our current Knicks are.
And I’ve seen many a game thread where the Knicks are up by 20 with 4 minutes to go and the starters are still playing and people are like “WHAT IS THIBS DOING? TAKE THE STARTERS OUT!” But then we see these games where we’re up by 16 with 3 minutes left and we lose, so maybe Thibs knows this is something that can happen to this team and that’s why he keeps them in, not because he’s some masochist.
I don’t think this season we can say that Thibs is grinding down our best players, Randle comes in 23rd with 35.3 mins per game, RJ in 36th with 34.1 MPG and Brunson in 45th with 33.2 MPG. This numbers look OK to me. In 2020-21 Randle was 1st and RJ was 13th.
Halfway point, Knicks are on a 44 win pace, buffeted slightly by playing so many games against teams missing their star players, but also underperforming their Pythag slightly, so it’s a pretty legit 44 win pace. If we matched our Pythag we’d be at a 48 win pace!
The area where we really need to improve is offensive eFG%, that has been a problem for Knick teams forever. League average eFG% this year is .540, and the Knicks are 26th in the league at .521. The other components of the offense are quite good. The Knicks are great at turnover prevention and are also a strong offensive rebounding team.
We could really use a sniper who can shoot above .400 from 3PT. There are 37 players in the NBA who have enough attempts to qualify for leaderboards who are shooting .400 or above, and none of them play for the Knicks. Our highest ranked 3PT shooter is Jalen Brunson, who is way down at #57.
If you could keep everything else more or less the same, and replace RJ Barrett with a high volume sniper, you might really be able to get something cooking.
The game today should be fun, the starting 5 matchups are great:
– Brunson against Hali
– Quick against Hield
– Grimes against Mathurin
– Mitch against Myles
Randle will matchup with the Lord Sumner Award candidate, so i think Randle will be key to this game. I hope he has another monster game.
Even Fournier is at 31.3% from 3 and that’s the one thing he’s supposed to do well.
I worry that RJ and IQ are just the shooters they’ve shown themselves to be this year. Taking out the empty stadium year they’re right around their career average (although for IQ that’s only 1 other year).
I do think Deuce will end up around 34%. Don’t think he’s a particularly good shooter but he’s also not this bad.
Getting Obi back should help our 3pt shooting
I’m far from an expert in this department, but Quickley’s shooting form makes me think he’s never going to be a consistent 3PT shooter. His form looks like a heave, like it’s not very repeatable.
Overall I like him as a player, and I’d keep him because he’s good at other stuff, but he’s not really the sniper I’m looking for.
IQ does shoot 84% at the ft line, effectively the same as Brunson, so I do have hope for Quick on the shooting front. But he’s also much less in control than Brunson when he pulls and takes them at a higher rate.
Brunson didn’t start hitting 3s at a high % until he was 24, so there’s still time and shooting is one if the easier fixes.
Btw, I watched the end of the Heat-Thunder game and with Miami down 5 with about a minute left, there were a whole bunch of empty seats in the lower bowl.
They are the absolute worst fans, it always pissed me off that they got the Heatles and those multiple championships.
Agreed on Heat fans being the worst. When thinking about Miami’s achievements, sometimes i wonder how are the Knicks faring in the alternative reality where we kept Pat Riley here.
IQ is a good shooter.. always has been… but so is trae young… and they tank their percentages because of the pullups he takes… he’s been taking less of those and being the pg in most lineups he’s going to be expected to take a lot of unassisted fg’s but he’s just not good enough on those pullups (30.4%) to be taking them as often as he is…
the easiest way for anyone to improve their shooting is just to shoot catch and shoots… RJ and Randle have done that… altho we are seeing some regression on Randle last week or so… IQ has made progress too but that 72% assisted 3pt number should probably be closer to 90% until he can shoot those pullups well enough… and he just hasn’t…
that does come with a price tho since he’s already has declining usage… so if you want to see IQ fulfill his upside you may have to live with mediocre 3pt% to see if he can develop that…
Looking at Trae’s numbers he’s weirdly only up to 35% assisted 3fgs. It’s a definite increase but you’d think hed take more catch and shoots with Dejounte on board.
Dejounte is basically right where he was in SA on assisted 3fgs.
Fwiw, I do think IQ is much more willing to work on his game than Trae and adjust. He seems a lot more mature. Of course Trae had a 60.3TS% last year so he doesn’t necessarily need to.
Huge game tonight. The Pacers are ready to play. Look for Hali to have a chip on his shoulder.
Nerlens & Rich Paul settled. Noel needed to pay Paul his full commission, which he previously hadn’t paid him. Unclear what the other terms of the settlement were. Hope Noel recouped some money but guessing the money only flows one way.
I wonder if that was part of the impetus to trade Noel, staying on good terms with a power agent.
I read the Athletic article and ended up feeling you don’t need to assume lack of experience or tiredness or anything special to account for the number of games lost to big comebacks. If 25% of league games have such a comeback, then the average team is involved in roughly ten such games so far (25% of roughly 40 games played). That would be five games lost that way and five games won that way. But you wouldn’t expect all teams to have the same number of such games. Teams that are really good, like Memphis, should have larger margins of victory and lose fewer such games and teams that are bad, like Detroit, will have less chance of being ahead that much in the first place. So seven such games for the Knicks seems about right.