The Line: Knicks -7
In recent years it’s been a good idea to begin analyzing a Knicks-Magic matchup with a look at the teams three point shooting. During the Mike D’Antoni era, the Knicks finished first, second, second, and second in three point attempts per game. This year, it has been more of the same as the Bockers lead the league with 29.3 attempts per game from behind the arc. During the Stan Van Gundy era, the Magic finished second, second, first, first, and first in three point attempts per game. Following the Dwight Howard
trade highway robbery by the Lakers and the Ryan Anderson trade stickup by the Hornets, the Magic offensive strategy has changed and they are only attempting 13.3 threes per game with only the Bulls attempting fewer per game.
The Magic compound that 50% reduction in three pointers with a ranking of 25th in shots at the rim. According to the numbers at Hoopdata, the average team shoots over 60% when at the rim, but roughly (very roughly) 40% on all other two pointers. Teams will shoot the three at a lower percentage, but the added value in the three point shot means an effective FG% over 52%. Bottom line, dunks and threes are good, everything else is not so much, and the Magic take a huge percentage of shots away from the basket and inside the arc.
Another reason the loss of Dwight Howard affects the Magic’s offensive woes is in free throw attempts. With Howard, they were one of the best teams at earning free throws and currently stand second worst in the early part of the season. The Magic are also 24th in forcing turnovers, making it really hard to see how this team won’t be one of the five worst offensive teams all season. The icing on the cake, is they still might not be without their best player as Jameer Nelson is listed questionable and could miss his sixth straight game with a groin injury (Not to mention the continued absence of Baby Al and Hedo Turkolgu (don’t laugh, those two are critical pieces of the Magic’s nucleus)). That means the immortal E’Twaun Moore will continue to play a prominent role. About the only thing that worries me about the Magic offense is the possibility of Big Baby abusing Melo in the post. So…I am taking the Knicks even if they weren’t playing well.
And holy shit, are the Knicks playing well. They lead the league in fewest turnovers committing slightly less than 11 per game, and also force the most turnovers. The quick hands of the veteran guards/swingmen should force the Magic backcourt into a lot of turnovers and easy baskets for the Bockers. The Knicks have only played four games all season and the last time they played was Friday, so they could start the game off cold. Still, they played their worse game of the season on Friday and covered the six point Mavs spread with a 104-94 victory (it would have been more if the Knicks didn’t miss 7 of their 13 fourth quarter free throws). SCorgan mentioned that this has the makings of a trap with games against the Spurs and Grizzlies this week. It’s possible, but there are too many veterans (and well-rested veterans) on this team for a trap game this early in the season. This line should be in the double digits so take the Knicks with confidence.
AC: 100 Masons on the Knicks
Aaron: 50 Masons on the Knicks
Bakeshow: 100 Masons on the Knicks
Mike: 50 Masons on the Knicks
SCorgan: 75 Masons on the Knicks
AC: 1,100 Masons (1-0 on picks)
SCorgan: 1,050 Masons (1-0 on picks)
Aaron: 1,025 Masons (1-0 on picks)
Bakeshow: 890 Masons (0-1 on picks)
Mike: 890 Masons (0-1 on picks)