Can a team win with its star player only scoring one point per shot? It’s not going so well over the past few games for Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks. Which players drive the Pacers in its incredibly volatile series against Atlanta? Can Oklahoma City win with Reggie Jackson as its second option on offense. We’re going behind the numbers from Wednesday night’s trio of Game Fives in today’s StatBox playoff breakdown.
Knicks won’t win with VoluMelo
The Knicks let a veteran team like the Celtics hang around on Wednesday in Boston’s 92-86 win and gain some confidence going into Friday night’s Game 6. The Knicks shot under 40 percent, and a lot of that has to do with the inefficient play of its best player.
The New York Knicks have a superstar player in Carmelo Anthony when he’s an efficient shooter and passer out of double teams. There seems to only a slight difference in Anthony’s performance in wins and losses during the regular season, but it’s enough of a difference to point out some tendencies.
|Carmelo Anthony||Shots||FG %||3 FG %||Points||Rebounds||FTA||FT %|
In losses, Anthony takes more shots at a pedestrian percentage across the board. The higher rebounding and free throw attempt numbers are due to his increased minutes in losses (39.2) rather than wins (36.1). What the Knicks have seen from its best player over the last three games is something/someone I call VoluMelo. He’s become a volume shooter who’s basketball-monopolizing approach hurts the team.
It doesn’t take a mathematical savant to realize that a player isn’t being efficient when he’s taking as many shots as the points he scores. In the last three games, Anthony scored 84 points on 84 shots. That’s really, really bad, considering shots are worth two or three points and there are free throws, as well. Anthony scored 70 points on 53 shots in the first two games, and even that’s not amazing.
“I told you from Game 1 that this wasn’t going to be a breeze. It wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. Them guys were going to fight and they’re showing some fight right now,” Anthony said. “They threw a couple punches at us now and it’s time for us to do the same.”
The way Anthony is shooting, he seems to be throwing a punch or two at his own team. Until New York gets Melo instead of VoluMelo, the Knicks are going to be in deep trouble against the Celtics.
Panicked Pacers persevere
After squandering a 2-0 series lead, the Indiana Pacers were panicking. But in Wednesday’s Game 5, Indiana went back to what got them the Eastern Conference’s third seed: elite level defense and other-worldly efficiency from the frontcourt.
It was a defensive tour-de-force in the Pacers’ 106-83 win, limiting the Hawks to 33.3 percent shooting. Josh Smith, Al Horford and Jeff Teague combined to shoot 13- for-46 from the field. On the other hand, the Indiana frontcourt trio of Roy Hibbert, David West and Paul George shot 21-for-31 as part of a Pacer offense that shot 50.7 percent from the floor.
“This is the first time that I felt like we’ve played true defense in this series,” West said. “I thought everyone came in and stayed with the game plan in terms of being aggressive, and our hands were active and we just made plays on the defensive end.”
As you’ll see in this nice info-graphic, the Pacers go as far as Hibbert, West and George take them:
|Pacer Frontcourt||FG %||Points||Rebounds||FTA||Plus/Minus|
When the trio got aggressive and went to the free throw line at least 19 times, they won. Whenever the players had a positive plus/minus, Indiana won. If the Pacers want to close out the Hawks in Game 6 and win the first road game of the series, you’ll know where to look for Indiana’s production.
Are the thin Thunder in trouble?
Russell Westbrook is injured. James Harden is on the other team. So who’s the second option for the Oklahoma City Thunder besides Kevin Durant? Reggie Jackson took the second most shots on the team in Wednesday’s 107-100 loss to Houston that was troublesome for the West’s
second seed top seed to say the very least.
Kevin Martin shot 1-for-10 and the OKC bench scored a total of 19 points on 23 shots. Even without Jeremy Lin on Wednesday, Houston went eight deep and got a combined 32 points from afterthoughts Francisco Garcia and Patrick Beverley. During the regular season, Jackson took 4.6 shots per game. During the postseason, that average is up to 10 attempts per contest and rising. Jackson is not a second scoring option for a playoff team. It’s that simple.
Serge Ibaka shot 6-for-14 in the Game 5 defeat, and he and Martin need to many more touches if the Thunder plan on advancing to the second round against either the Clippers or Grizzlies. If not, the team’s management may be kicking itself for sacrificing its short-term depth with Harden.
Shlomo Sprung loves advanced statistics and the way they explain what happens on the court. He is also the web editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. A 2011 graduate of Columbia University’s Journalism School, he has previously worked for the New York Knicks, The Sporting News, Business Insider and other publications. His website is SprungOnSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter.