5 reasons for Knicks' four-game win streak

The Knicks’ roller coaster season seems to be on the ascent. They’ve won four in a row heading into Saturday’s showdown with the Miami Heat.

Below, we take a look at five things that have gone well for New York (19-27) during the streak:

1. Less is more: The Andrea Bargnani injury has forced Mike Woodson to play with a small lineup over the past four games. The Knicks have won all four games by blistering their opponent. Since Bargnani went down, the Knicks are shooting 53 percent from the floor and 47.5 percent from beyond the arc.

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony

#7 SF
New York Knicks

2014 STATS

  • GM43
  • PPG27.2

  • RPG8.9

  • APG3.0

  • FG%.449

  • FT%.848

On the season, they’re shooting 44 percent from the field and 36 percent from 3.

It seems like the three-guard lineup has spaced the floor and allowed guards to work on screen and rolls, which, invariably, lead to an increase in open shot attempts. One example is their ability to find the open shooter in the corner. The Knicks’ rate of corner 3 attempts has increased by more than 30 percent in the past four games.

Just how good has the Knicks' “small ball” lineup been? For the season, New York’s averaging 103.7 points per 100 possessions, the 16th best rate in the league. In the past four games, playing small ball, the Knicks are scoring 125 points per 100 possessions. That rate would lead the league by a large margin.

2. Melo fellow: Carmelo Anthony has been on a tear during the Knicks’ winning streak. In the past four games, Anthony’s averaging 37.5 points on 54 percent shooting. He’s hit an astronomical 50 percent of his 3s and has grabbed 7.8 rebounds per game.

On the season, he’s scoring 27.2 points per game on 45 percent shooting. He’s hitting 42.4 percent of his 3s.

So why is Melo on a scoring tear? One explanation could be Bargnani’s injury. With Bargnani out, Anthony has shifted to power forward. He played PF for much of last season, when he led the NBA with a 28.7 point per game scoring average.

The increased spacing seems to have given Anthony more opportunities from beyond the arc. In the past four games, 27 percent of his attempts have come beyond the arc. On the season, 21 percent of his attempts have come from beyond the arc.

3. J.R. heating up: J.R. Smith has started to remind Knicks fans of the player who earned the Sixth Man Award last season.

J.R. Smith

J.R. Smith

#8 SG
New York Knicks

2014 STATS

  • GM39
  • PPG12.4

  • RPG4.2

  • APG3.0

  • FG%.378

  • FT%.583

During the winning streak, Smith is scoring 16.5 points per game on 49 percent shooting. He’s hitting 55 percent of his 3s. The only place he hasn’t been effective from is the free-throw line. Smith has made just 46 percent of his free-throws in the past four games.

Smith’s resurgence really started after he was benched in mid-January for being late to a team meeting and getting into it with Woodson. Since then, Smith has scored 16.4 points per game on 45 percent shooting. In the first three months of the season, he was scoring 12.1 points per game on 35 percent shooting.

“Just being a professional on and off the court as much as I can,” Smith said.

4. Timmy’s time: With Iman Shumpert out due to a shoulder injury, Tim Hardaway Jr. has seen an increase in minutes -- and he’s taken advantage. In the past two games, Hardaway has scored 22.5 points per game on 59 percent shooting in 32 minutes.

During the Knicks’ four-game winning streak, he’s hit 52 percent of his 3s (14-for-27).

5. J-Cole: With Kenyon Martin and Amar'e Stoudemire sidelined due to ankle injuries, Woodson has turned to Jeremy Tyler and Cole Aldrich to fill the void. They’ve excelled over the past four games.

Aldrich is averaging a 15.4 rebounds per 36 minutes during the Knicks’ winning streak. Tyler is scoring 16.3 points and pulling down 10.1 rebounds per 36 minutes in the past four games. He’s made 60 percent of his shots.

It’s unclear if either Stoudemire or Martin will be available Saturday against Miami.

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