2013 NBA Playoffs: New York Knicks Should Rely Less on Isolation Plays

By Cody Williams
J.R. Smith Knicks NBA Playoffs
Debby Wong – USA Today Sports Images

The New York Knicks seemed like they would be blown out by the Boston Celtics in game four, but they fought back to force overtime. They eventually fell to the Celtics by a score of 97-90. However, the Boston win simply made the Knicks lead in the series a little less, bringing the count to 3-1 in New York’s favor.

By all accounts, the Knicks will go on to win this series and advance to the second round of the NBA Playoffs unless the Celtics summon the spirits of the 2004 Boston Red Sox, a topic that will be brought up relentlessly in game five and if there are any games after. The more likely scenario, though is that the Knicks will, in fact, be advancing out of the first round.

Given that, the Knicks need to stay focused on this series, but also be looking to make adjustments for the challenges that lie ahead in the playoffs. In this series with the Celtics, they have played tremendous defense, something that’s kind of uncharacteristic of the normally offensive-minded Knicks. In fact, their offense hasn’t been all that effective in this series. As a team against Boston, they’ve shot just 41.4 percent from the field and just 33.7 percent from long range. They’ve also averaged just 96.4 points per 100 possessions opposed to the 108.6 they averaged in the regular season.

One of their focuses offensively in the playoffs has been isolation plays. Through four games, 26.68 percent of their offense has been run through isolation plays. Of their isolation sets, 54.97 percent of them have gone through Carmelo Anthony, 19.63 percent have gone through J.R. Smith, 11.21 percent have gone through Raymond Felton, and 7.48 percent have gone through Iman Shumpert.

Though Anthony and Smith are skilled players in isolation situations, they haven’t exactly been effective in isolation sets. Of the 16 playoff teams, they rank just 14th in terms of points per possession out of isolation sets, scoring just 0.71 points per possession. Considering that isolation sets make up more than one-fourth of their offense, it hasn’t exactly been effective.

It’s no secret that the Knicks are a team that doesn’t move the ball well as they are only averaging 14.8 assists per game as a team in their first round series. However, they should really look to different offensive sets as they go forward in the postseason. They should look to execute more out of the pick-and-roll, where the average 1.06 points per possession, or find spot-up jumpers, where they average 1.07 points per possession.

The Knicks have been dominant in their series with the aging Celtics, but as they go forward and have to match up with teams like the Indiana Pacers, running isolation plays isn’t going to cut it, especially if they remain to be as ineffective as they have been against Boston. The Knicks should look to shake things up a little more offensively as they go forward if they want to be successful.

Cody Williams is a Senior NBA Writer with Rant Sports. Follow Cody on Twitter @TheSizzle20 and like his Facebook page.

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