Game 3: How Did They Do It?

Tuesday the Knicks beat the Sixers by a fair margin. Even though I watched the game, I was curious what the stat sheet would say about it. In theory, the box score should give us some more insight on how the Knicks won. New York shot 50% eFG%, a very high percentage. However they only gained a small advantage as the Sixers shot just as well, 49%. If the Knicks didn’t shoot better than their opponent, then this couldn’t have been the reason for their victory.

New York was slightly out-rebounded on the offensive end, 28% to 30%, so they didn’t have an edge on the glass. Philly also had an advantage with a higher percentage of free throws (27% FTM/FGA to New York’s 25%). So, if you’re keeping track at home:

  • New York had a small shooting advantage
  • Philly had a small advantage rebounding
  • Philly had a small advantage scoring from the foul line

Each of the stats were close enough to call a draw, which would make it appear that neither team had an edge. So exactly what did New York do to propel themselves to an 8 point victory?

The Sixers turned the ball over on 29% of their possessions, while the Knicks only coughed it up 20% of the time. That’s a huge difference, and was easily the reason the Knicks won. New York had a team effort as their 15 steals were split up among 7 different players. They were led by Marbury, Crawford, and Mohammed(!), who all had 3 steals apiece. The culprits for the Sixers was their starting backcourt, as Iverson & Green combined for 14 turnovers. In fact Iverson almost had a triple double with 29 points, 10 assists and 9 turnovers.

While the Knicks were able to disrupt the Sixers offense with turnovers, Philly was still accurate once they got their shots up. I said earlier, and on more than one occasion, that this would be an issue I would keep an eye on. So far this season, the Knicks are not doing a good job at keeping their opponents from getting a good look at the hoop. Their first two games, the Knicks’ opponents put up effective field goal percentages (eFG%) of 54.4% and 59.7%. This is a bit disturbing because:

  1. The average eFG% last year was 47.1% and
  2. Last year they were better than average (46.1%).

I’m hoping that this is just a small sample size thing, and the Knicks will at least be average in this respect. However the early returns aren’t promising. Even when they faced a weaker opponent in Philly, a team that was below average in shooting percentage last year, they were unable to put up a good effort. They’ll have another chance on Friday against the Clippers, and again, I’ll be keeping a close eye on this issue.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).