“I’m not sure they’re going to be able to get that many off tonight,” said Kerr. “But the question isn’t whether they’re going to keep making them, it’s whether they’re going to keep getting wide open looks, like that one to Jason Kidd.”
On cue, Kidd knocked home a trey of his own with 9:33 left in the first quarter.
Little did Kerr know that those opening triples would become the theme of the evening. New York converted 18-of-44 attempts from behind the arc, including 8-of-13 in the game-changing, 37-27 third quarter.
What was a 53-53 game at halftime ballooned to an 18-point lead with 3 minutes remaining in the quarter before the Heat closed the period on 13-5 run, cutting the deficit to a potentially manageable 10 points heading into the fourth and final frame.
We already previewed the Knicks shooting earlier in the week. Today we will focus on their ball movement and perimeter spacing, which have been nothing short of spectacular to start the season.
In their last three games alone, New York has taken significantly better care of the basketball than their opponents as they’ve racked up a 64-to-22 assist to turnover ratio in that span.
No wonder JR Smith even had the opportunity to knock down the game winner in Charlotte on Wednesday evening. As a result of moving the ball with the pass on a more consistent basis the Knicks have limited turnovers, which has kept the them in games by adding extra possessions on the offensive end, and makes them ridiculously lethal from the perimeter.
Whether it was JR Smith aggressively driving the lane during a 3-on-3 fast break and finding Steve Novak in the corner; Tyson Chandler or Kurt Thomas grabbing an offensive rebound and kicking the ball out to an open shooter on the perimeter; or just good old fashioned excellent spacing and ball movement around the perimeter, the Knicks did it all last night and showed Kerr and the rest of the basketball world that whether or not they have Anthony on the floor, they are a force to be reckoned with because they understand their strengths and weaknesses and they play within their system.
Instead of Jeremy Lin driving and trying to create something off the bounce or Anthony isolated on the wing and trying to create a shot while everyone else watched and waited, the Knicks have consistently spaced the floor and made an effort to get their best 3-point shooters the ball in positions to succeed. Take this play for example.
Third Quarter, 11:25 – Felton pushed the ball up the floor after a Dwyane Wade basket and utilized a Tyson Chandler screen on the right side of the court. Felton hits Chandler on the roll, who was patient when he realized Chris Bosh cut off his angle to the hoop. He pivoted and passed the ball back to Felton in the right corner, who moved the ball to Kidd on the right wing. Kidd knocked down the triple.
If Kidd hadn’t had an open shot, he would have swung the ball or drove and passed to another open teammate on the perimeter to try to get an open look. The consistency in their approach – whether their locker room leader Kidd is on the floor or not- is what has truly separated New York’s attitude and mindset this year as opposed to any other year of the past decade. Kidd’s unselfish nature has trickled down to Smith, Anthony and everyone else, and it has shown itself repeatedly.
Any type of ball-movement that can make Rasheed Wallace do this has to be something special.
New York, for the first time in more than a decade, your team is in a groove right now.
The Knicks are one of the hottest teams in basketball, and the best part about it?
They’re doing it as a team.
Jeremy Bauman is an aspiring scout and shooting coach. After covering last June’s NBA finals for this site, he’ll be blogging for SheridanHoops.com weekday mornings during the 2012-13 basketball season. Follow him on Twitter.