The Knicks’ game 1 win in their first round playoff series against the Boston Celtics was a great thing. The Knicks have had previous playoff problems with the Celtics and losing a very ugly game at home would have most likely had consequences that would have rippled throughout the series. A win is a win and the Knicks are up 1-0 on their longtime rivals.
At the same time, there were some major reasons that the game was so ugly and that the Knicks only scored 85 points and shot only 40.5% from the floor. They’re going to need to remedy them if they plan to win game 2, because the Celtics are not likely to shoot as badly as they did in game 1.
Problem #1? 61 of their 79 shots (77.2%) were taken by three players (Carmelo Anthony, JR Smith, and Raymond Felton). Although it’s problematic that they only connected on 25 of those 61 shots (40.98%) and that Smith and Felton shot a combined 2-for-10 (20%) from the 3-point line, that is only part of the story that the Knicks need to change going into game 2.
Problem #2? No shots for Tyson Chandler in 20 minutes; no shots for Steve Novak in 5 minutes; 2 shots for Iman Shumpert in 21 minutes; 6 shots for Jason Kidd in 35 minutes.
When 3 players take such a high percentage of the shots, their teammates get cold. Then, when the team needs the teammate to make a shot, he misses. So Melo, Smith, and Felton need to keep their teammates involved if for no other reason than to help the teammates hit their shots when it’s their turn to shoot.
More important than that, however, is that when players like Chandler don’t get any shots for 20 minutes, it allows the Celtics’ defense to cheat. Now they can double on Melo or get in Novak’s way during the very few minutes he played. Running the offense in such a way, and allowing the defense to cheat without consequence, is a pretty sure way to lose a game.
Some may say that Chandler was injured and would have missed anyway. That’s beside the point. You get Chandler a couple of shots and you get him those shots early. Even if he misses them, it tells the defense that they have to play D on Chandler.
You find a way to get Novak a shot or two (even if he goes back door for an “alley oomph”) because doing so forces the Celtics’ to keep a man on Novak. And you keep Novak moving, because having him stand in one spot makes it easier for his defender to cheat off of him.
Doing this will make it easier for Melo, JR, and Felton to score. It’s probably no coincidence that the trio shot so poorly in game 1. They were dealing with a great defensive team – and then some.
The ball must be spread around, early and often. Not because the Knicks need to run a Socialist offense but because doing so will keep the Celtics honest. And if the Knicks intend to win this series, honesty will be their best policy.
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