The New York Knicks are struggling to score in the playoffs because they’re not running the same offence that made them successful in the regular season.
It sounds like an over-generalization, but that’s what’s happening.
They aren’t “just missing shots” — which is what all the players are saying today.
They’re doing fundamentally different things than they did all season, falling into bad habits at the worst possible time.
Specifically, they’re running more isolation plays than usual and Carmelo Anthony is shooting into defenses overloaded to stop him instead of quickly moving the ball around the perimeter.
NBA writer Couper Moorhead crunched the data and found that the Knicks are running isolation plays 26.6% of the time on offence, compared to 15.9% during the regular season. That 26% number is the most for any playoff team in 10 years.
As a result, the Knicks are taking way, way fewer three-pointers than usual. During the regular season they set an NBA record for most threes taken and made in a single year. Now they’re shooting five fewer threes per game, and rank behind both Houston and Oklahoma City in threes attempted during the playoffs.
Those threes were a function of ball movement, specifically Anthony’s solid decision-making out of double teams.
In the playoffs, that ball movement has disappeared, Anthony’s decision-making when confronted by multiple defenders has been suspect, and those open threes have been replaced by contested jumpers after long spells of dribbling.
The numbers are simple: They’ve gone from 111.1 points per 100 possession in the regular season to 98.7 in the playoffs. If the Celtics were remotely functional on offence, the last two games wouldn’t have been as close as they were.
It’s not unfixable.
The Knicks have had stretches this year when they looked utterly useless on offence, only to snap out of it and go on a winning streak.
But the fact that they’ve regressed so dramatically is troubling going forward.
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