There's no question Mike D'Antoni likes to run. In fact, his "seven seconds or less" philosophy during the team's Christmas Day win over the Bulls, 103-95, proved to be very effective.
Knicks' Offense By Time Used On Shot Clock
Seven Seconds Or Less
Points -- 48
FG% -- 64.3 (18 of 28)
3FG% -- 58.3 (7 of 12)
Eight Seconds Or More
Points -- 55
FG% -- 47.1 (24 of 51)
3FG% -- 50.0 (5 of 10)
Source: John McTigue, ESPN Stats and Information
The Knicks shot better from the field and the three-point line when they scored within seven seconds. (They also drew more fouls -- nine to eight -- in the up-tempo offense.) Even though they put up more points using more time (55 vs. 48), it took them 23 more attempts to score that many.
But while D'Antoni's team is the highest-scoring in the NBA at 107.9 points per game, his starters are playing the most minutes on average than any other first unit in the league. In 15 games starting together, Raymond Felton (PG), Landry Fields (SG), Danilo Gallinari (SF), Wilson Chandler (PF) and Amare Stoudemire (C) are averaging 38.9 minutes per game. The Warriors' starting five is second at 36 mpg, with Utah, Chicago and Portland rounding out the top five. In the past while coaching his successful Suns' squads that went deep in the playoffs, D'Antoni's starters routinely played in the low 30s and he called on usually four guys off the bench; and they scored more points than this Knicks team (around 110 per game vs. 107.9).
Before this season started, D'Antoni said he might go 10 or 11 deep, but because of the team's initial struggles going 3-8, he has put greater weight on his first unit to produce and has mostly only played Toney Douglas, Ronny Turiaf and Shawne Williams off the bench. There is some worry that D'Antoni will burn out his starting five too early in the season and not get some other guys experience in the rotation, especially the young and talented Anthony Randolph. The Knicks are in talks about trading for a backup point guard -- the latest being New York native Sebastian Telfair of the Timberwolves -- to reduce Felton's minutes, which would help Douglas find his comfort zone as a shooting guard in the second unit and less as a distributor.
As of now, the numbers show that D'Antoni's aggressive style of play and thin rotations this season has led to his team playing better on both sides of the ball with two days or more rest.
Knicks' Production Based On Amount Of Rest (Excluding First Game)
No Rest (Second Game Of Back-To-Backs)
Record -- 6-3
Offense -- 112.0 ppg, 47.2 FG%, 37.0% 3FG%
Opponents -- 107.6 ppg, 47.6 FG%, 37.3 3FG%
One Day Rest
Record -- 6-7
Offense -- 106.2 ppg, 45.3 FG%, 33.7 3FG%
Opponents -- 108.8 ppg, 47.9 FG%, 39.7 3FG%
Two Days Of Rest Or More
Record -- 5-2
Offense -- 107.3 ppg, 50.2 FG%, 46.3 3FG%
Opponents -- 103.0 ppg, 46.0 FG%, 35.3 3FG%
Source: The Elias Sports Bureau
The Knicks don't play as well with sporadic rest, but with two days or more time off, not only are they more efficient on offense, but they have more energy to play defense. On the season, their opponents score 106.6 points per game -- the fourth-worst defense in the league -- but against the Thunder (three days rest), they only allowed 98 points and against the Bulls (two days rest), they only gave up 95. The Knicks were especially good in their perimeter rotations, getting bodies on guys and contesting shots, which comes along with being well-rested. In the fourth quarter against the Bulls on Saturday, the Knicks' defense forced them into 12 missed jumpers in a row and only 12 points before the final buzzer sounded.
The Knicks are on their way to becoming a solid defensive team -- let's not forget they already lead the league in blocked shots (203) and they're 10th in steals (236) -- but they'll need another bench player to step up or a trade will have to happen.
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