A questionable offensive foul called on Carmelo Anthony as he attempted to secure the basketball with Paul Pierce defending him appeared to set up the Knicks for a loss at the hands of Ray Allen’s third made 3 point shot. That was not the entire story, however. Carmelo Anthony responded by launching a questionable three pointer that caromed off the rim and sealed the Knicks fifth loss to the Celtics this year. This time out the loss was more demoralizing, as it was in the NBA’s first round Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the rival Celtics.
In game one a myriad of bad calls, missed calls and non calls went in Favor of the Celtics. The non call on Jermaine O’Neals blocking foul on Bill Walker, a non call on Glen Davis’ traveling, a non call on Kevin Garnett’s moving chipping illegal screen on Toney Douglas as he trailed Ray Allen, amongst others. While the loss can reasonably be attributed to those missed calls (and the uneven officiating) beacause the game was so close in the late stages the loss can also be attributed to Knicks failure to attend to the details.
Details evident in the Knicks inability to close out defensive stops by controlling the defensive boards. A detail that resulted in a 44 to 34 rebounding deficiency to the Celtics who secured too many second chance shot opportunities against the Knicks. Ten offensive rebounds in the second half (fifteen overall) to spark their comeback. Details evident in the missed defense of Kevin Garnett’s alley oop dunk off a baseline feed from teamate Rajon Rondo in the closing minutes of a tightly contested Knciks/Celtics playoff game. Details observable in lapses trailing the Celitcs shooters Ray Allen and Paul Pierce (aside from Garnett’s illegal scree) that resulted in several open corner three point shots.
Another detail on the offensive end is to recall the effectiveness of Carmelo Anthony’s mid range game. Something he seemed to forget as he forced a three up in the closing seconds of the Knicks/Celtics game one playoff loss. It’s not hard to understand why Melo attempted such an ill advised shot. Note that as the Knicks went on their 7-0 run during the regular season, Carmelo Anthony experienced a boost in his three point shooting attempts and conversions. The added dimension to Anthony’s game (for a player who is know more for his mid range and isolation exploits) appeared to provide another element for opposing teams to consider when guarding the star forward.
Here’s another thing to consider. The three pointer, as it was for the Knicks in their first playoff game in seven years, was also for Anthony fools gold. Let us look at why.
The Knicks stayed in the game against the Celtics in the first quarter by hitting three of their four attempted three pointers (3 total assists). In the second quarter the Knicks connected on 2-4 three pointers with Anthony hitting 2-3 attempts while adding four points from mid range and two from the free throw line (12 points total). The second quarter was not coincidentally the Knicks most productive quarter. One in which only a quarter of their scoring came from distance and most of their conversions were the result of ball movement (eight assists) for high percentage shots from within the arc.
In the 3rd quarter the Knicks shot 1-7 from three point range and 5-25 overall. Thus in the 3rd quarter about a third of the Knicks scoring attempts came from contested high percentage three point shots. the Knicks only had two assist in that quarter In the fourth quarter, about half of the Knicks attempts came from beyond the arc (8/18) with the Knicks connecting at an even lower clip (2-8). In that quarter the Knicks had only 3 assist.
The same decline in offensive efficiency applied to Anthony In the 2nd half of the game. Note that 5 of Anthony’s 11 field goal attempts came from distance in the second half of the game. Anthony took all three of his shot attempts from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter to mirror the wretched decline of the overall Knicks offense that (save for Amar’e Stoudemire’s heroics) shot further and further away from the basket.
In the second half Anthony missed on all his shots from distance and only connected on one shot from inside the arc and converted one free throw attempt. Although Anthony’s troubles in the Knicks first round playoff series can be attributed to all the sitting he had to do with early foul trouble, the statistics bear out that the Knicks as well as Anthony were more efficient when the ball and men moved for higher percentage shots. When that ball motion man movement failed them only Stoudemire’s defiant moves inside and mid range jumper could answer the call.
The point? Well on some nights when the three point is clicking both Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks show a 3rd dimension that is lethal and worrisome. But on the other hand when that shot is not falling, the necessary teamwork, ball motion and player movement that can result in higher percentage shots that are needed in the playoffs just disappears. The Knicks 3rd element instead of cubing up their offense makes their offense look all square!