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Keys to Sunday's ABC doubleheader

Mavericks at Knicks – 1 ET on ABC

Despite Friday's loss to the New Orleans Hornets, it’s been a good two weeks for the New York Knicks, who have won seven of eight overall. And while Jeremy Lin has been the toast of New York City, he isn’t the only reason for the Knicks' recent success.

Over their past eight games, the Knicks rank second in the NBA in defensive efficiency, allowing just 93.7 points per 100 possessions. Prior to that, they ranked 11th in that same category.

Their game against the Dallas Mavericks represents the first test in a tough 14-game stretch in which the Knicks will play 11 games against teams with winning records.

Perhaps the biggest key to Sunday's game will be how the Mavericks defend what is suddenly the most pick-and-roll-dependent offense in the NBA.

Since Feb. 4, more than 27 percent of New York’s offensive possessions came via the pick-and-roll, according to video tracking by Synergy Sports. Over the course of the season, that would rank first in the NBA.

Lin in particular has leaned heavily on the pick-and-roll as nearly half of his offensive possessions have come as the P&R ball handler (see chart). Only Steve Nash runs a higher percentage of plays as the P&R ball handler.

Jeremy Lin
Percent of Possessions By Play Type

Unfortunately for the Knicks, the Mavericks have the league’s top-ranked defense against the pick-and-roll ball handler, allowing just 0.65 points per play and holding opponents to 34 percent shooting.

Also, watch for whether Lin can limit the turnovers. Lin enters Sunday as the most turnover-prone P&R ball handler in the NBA, coughing it up on nearly 30 percent of his possessions. He will look to manage that number against a Mavericks defense which ranks second in the league in forcing turnovers when defending the pick-and-roll.

Magic at Heat - 3:30 ET on ABC

The second half of the ABC doubleheader pits the Orlando Magic at Miami Heat in their second meeting of the season. Orlando beat Miami 102-89 back on Feb. 8, behind a steady barrage of 3-pointers.

In that game, the Magic set a franchise record for 3-point attempts, finishing 17-for-42 from downtown, and actually attempted more 3-pointers than 2-pointers. In more than 16,000 regular-season games over the past 15 seasons, it was just the fifth time a team took more than half of its shots from beyond the arc.

That Orlando won while relying on its outside shooting is no surprise (see chart) -- 33 percent of the Magic’s total points this season have come from 3-pointers, the highest percentage in the NBA.

Orlando Magic
By 3-pt FGA, This Season

For Miami to avenge its loss, it will need to do a better job closing out on the Magic's shooters. In spot-up situations, Orlando ranks third in points per play (1.04) while its effective field goal percentage (53.2) ranks second.

Meanwhile, Miami ranks 23rd in defending spot-up situations while giving up a higher percentage of spot-up looks than any other team in the NBA.