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.

Liked it? Take a second to support Mike Kurylo on Patreon!

Mike Kurylo

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