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Knicks curiously move away from using two point guards

May 15, 2013, 6:09 PM EDT

New York Knicks v Boston Celtics - Game Six Getty Images

With Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni at their disposal, the Knicks successfully implemented sets during the regular season that took advantage of having two point guards on the floor. Still, New York used one or fewer point guard more often than not.

  • With at least two point guards: +264 in 43 percent minutes
  • With one or fewer point guards: +84 in 58 percent of minutes

That’s fine. The regular season is for experimenting, and smart teams take the information they glean and apply it in the playoffs. For their first nine playoff games, the Knicks seemed like one of those smart teams. In that span, the Knicks more than flipped the script, giving significantly more playing time to two-point-guard lineups. To do so, Mike Woodson probably had to pick less-than-perfect spots to play those dual PGs, which would lower their efficiency but was probably still worthwhile.

  • With at least two point guards:  +21 in 68 percent of minutes
  • With one or fewer point guards: +19 in 32 percent of minutes

But Woodson strayed from that strategy in Game 4 against the Pacers. First of all, the Knicks started Kenyon Martin in place of Prigioni, giving New York a lineup with only one point guard right off the bat. Martin’s size theoretically could have help against the Pacers, but that didn’t work. Instead the shift just set in motion a gameplan that marginalized the Knicks’ two-point-guard sets in Game 4:

  • With at least two point guards: -12 in 21 percent of minutes
  • With one or fewer point guards: +1 in 79 percent of minutes

At first glance, it appears Woodson made a wise move to use more single-PG lineups. But not all point-guard combinations are created equal – especially when Kidd can’t score. Here’s how each point-guard combination has performed in the playoffs:

  • Felton-Kidd: –37 in 148 minutes
  • Felton-Prigioni: +31 in 120 minutes
  • Kidd-Prigioni: +39 in 65 minutes

Woodson, of course, used Felton-Kidd for 70 percent of the Knicks’ two-PG minutes in Game 4 and didn’t play Felton and Prigioni together at all.

The Knicks have gone away from what works for them in a doomed attempt to solve the problems that have plagued them all season and will likely continue to plague them. Instead, they should stick with their strengths – including playing two point guards together.

  1. jbeagles23 - May 15, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    At least these knick comments will be over this week. And people actually thought thy were contenders

  2. ProBasketballPundit - May 15, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    You change lineups in the playoffs for two reasons. Either the team is panic-adjusting or trying to surprise the opponent. Last year Spoelstra made a great adjustment going small with Bosh and Battier in the starting lineup for the Finals, and this year you see Vinny Del Negro completely panicking by playing 12 guys in a game 7 and having no idea what his strengths are. Mike Woodson putting Kenyon Martin in the starting lineup is a total panic move in an attempt to match the Pacers size. It’s a mistake. The Knicks should stick with what worked for them all season: small ball lineups with a lot of ball movement and outside shooting.

    • nygrwy - May 16, 2013 at 12:21 AM

      Small ball worked against a lot of bad teams. Putting KMart in was the right idea. They are getting murdered at the boards. They were probably better off with Camby though. Notice we are not seeing any of tysons tip backs? Why because the Pacers rebound properly.

      • stlouis1baseball - May 16, 2013 at 9:47 AM

        You nailed it nygrwy! The Pacers play defense.
        Man-to-man…in your face…lock down defense.
        Then when the opponent gets a shot off (often poorly)…they close their respective man out and clean up the boards. Often resulting in one and done’s. I really enjoy watching this Indiana team play basketball. Defense…rebounding and ball distribution.
        The way the game of basketball should be played.

  3. misterdreamer119 - May 15, 2013 at 8:32 PM

    Knicks are getting out hustled and beat up physically.

  4. nygrwy - May 16, 2013 at 12:22 AM

    The Knicks would have been destroyed in the next round. As a knicks fan and a fan of ball this is a better look for the playoffs

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