by - December 7, 2012 - - Comment Now »

Clearly the exclamation points on the Knicks great start to the season have come in wins against the Miami Heat. However, those wins only give you a glimpse of the full story. And the actual story is not the narrative that has been frequently penned.

I’ve read many an article crediting New York’s play to a renewed commitment to defense or simply Carmelo Anthony carrying the team. Neither are my main takeaway. While the Knicks have certainly shown the ability to play great team D, it hasn’t been their calling card. And they were very good last year (top ten under Mike D’Antoni even…lockdown toward the end of the season). Also, while Carmelo is clearly enjoying a boon in production at the four spot and the team has played through him a la Dirk Nowitzki (I’m not the first person to make the comparison), one player is not solely responsible for what has really carried the Knicks. Their overall offense.

The Knicks have been atop the list of efficient offenses all season. Why? They take good shots. Many of them threes. I often hear people say ‘live by the three, die by the three’, which is an antiquated way of thinking. Statistically, the best shots are ones at the rim. The second best variety, open looks from beyond the arc (they are worth an extra point you know). Well, New York does both. They’ve got perhaps the most underrated offensive player in the league in Tyson Chandler attacking the rim. He may not be versatile (Melo takes care of the versatility) but he’s excellent. Chandler only takes shots he can make, a good thing. Dude is shooting over 70% from the field (he also happens to possess the second best career fg% ever) and his ability as a pick and roll finisher opens the floor up. The Knicks do a lot with the open floor that he and double teams of Anthony produce, which is where the threes come in.

The team ball movement is pristine. Partially due to drive and kicks from Raymond Felton, partially due to Jason Kidd being an absolute basketball savant and partially due to team wide commitment. Many times said ball movement culminates in a splash from trey because they are loaded with shooters. Steve Novak is a specialist who is special at his specialty, Kidd has transformed himself into a knockdown spot up guy, JR Smith is dangerous and Felton and Melo are more than competent. Most everyone who gets burn can make you pay from there (even Rasheed Wallace occasionally).

Nowhere has this offense been more evident than against the Heat. In both games Miami has run around like Bosh’s with their heads cut off. Hence two unexpected 20 point victories. Does this mean the Knicks are on the same level as the champs? It’s difficult to tell. Miami plays an over aggressive defensive style which cannot survive coasting without being punished (they lost to the Wizards and nearly dropped games to the Cavs sans Kyrie Irving and the substitute Spurs). Yet, the same issues have existed for them in the past and they’ve shown a penchant for having an on switch where all the sudden they begin playing like a pro wrestler who just got tagged in by his tired partner. And if last night’s game was as “important” as we like to make it out to be, Carmelo Anthony wouldn’t have been in street clothes.

But it does mean the Knicks are a really good team. And absolutely for real. Just not maybe for the reasons you’ve been told.

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