The Pacers Are Preventing the Knicks from Scoring By Any Means
Before Game 1, this series was billed as a battle between the league’s stingiest defense and a high-octane, jump-shooting offense predicated on ball movement.
The Pacers allowed fewer points per possession and forced a lower shooting percentage than any other team. The Knicks set all all-time record for team three-point attempts per game.
One side had to budge.
Through four games, it couldn’t be more glaring which team has.
Just look at the gory numbers.
In an attempt to find some area in which the Knicks are playing well on offense, I expanded an analysis of scoring to virtually every definition anyone could use to explain how points are put in the hoop.
We have points in the paint, second-chance points, three-pointers, free throws, fast-break points, points scored off of turnovers, backcourt scoring, frontcourt scoring and bench scoring.
There are only two areas in which the Knicks have an advantage worth mentioning: Bench points and points off of turnovers.
The bench scoring was expected. Sixth Man of the Year award winner J.R. Smith comes off of New York’s bench, and he averaged 18.1 points per game in the regular season. No Indiana reserve averaged within even 10 points of that total.
This was sure to happen, and the Knicks are averaging 30 bench points per game compared to 17.8 per night for the Pacers.
Then there are the turnovers.
The Knicks have out-scored the Pacers 77-53 off of turnovers this series. But that is almost entirely the product of Game 2, during which New York forced Indiana into a slew of turnovers as it went on a historic 30-2 run to put the game away in the late third/early fourth quarters.
In the other three games, Indiana has out-scored New York after giveaways, albeit barely, 47-45. Other than Game 2, the off-turnover scoring has been negligible.
Same goes for fast break points, a category in which New York has outscored Indiana 20-19 in four games. That’s 5.0 per game compared to 4.8 per game.
It has been an irrelevant category all series, with neither team running at all. It should be noted that this has the potential to change. Mike Woodson, especially, and Frank Vogel, somewhat, have both said they need to find a way to get more points in transition.
This ends the “good” news for New York.
Really, there has been none other than the expected bench dominance and the advantageous turnover-forcing in Game 2.
Everything else has been all Pacers.
Points in the paint, second-chance points and free-throw scoring were all expected Indiana advantages. And New York has actually hung in those first two categories overall. Though, again, most of their positive news in these “muscle” departments has come from their 52 paint points and 29 second-chance points in Game 2.
They have also benefited from the Pacers suspect free-throw shooting.
With just a 72.2% make rate, Indiana has only been able to turn its 97-72 free-throw attempt advantage (plus 25) into a 70-55 advantage (plus 15) in actual points. For a team that doesn’t seem like it should have any glaringly bad free-throw shooters, this remains a head scratching problem area.
The most surprising number, obviously, is the three-point scoring differential.
Before the series, the Pacers were likely hoping to stay relatively even in this category. Instead, they have out-scored the Knicks by 18 from behind the arc.
(Though it should be noted that the entirety of this advantage came in Game 3, when Indiana somehow held the Knicks to 11 three-point attempts, including just 8 before garbage time.)
A look at the shooting percentages tells the same story: Indiana’s defense is dominating the Knicks. The only positive numbers we see for New York come from the free-throw line or during Game 2.
If you actually look at the Pacers’ shooting numbers, they are pretty poor. But the Knicks’ numbers are significantly worse to the point that the more-meaningful parts of the chart are mostly yellow.
My only question for Mike Woodson and the Knicks players at this point is — to quote the Bobs from Office Space — what would ya say … ya do here?
In this series, the Knicks haven’t been able to shoot from deep, score in the paint, get offensive rebounds, get to the line or get out in transition.
Unless Woodson plans to invent a new way of scoring that I’ve never heard of (maybe half-court shots?), that needs to change if New York hopes to extend this series.