Some eyebrows were raised when the most prolific 3-point shooting team in NBA history only launched 11 long bombs in Game 3. During the regular season, the Knicks averaged 28.8 3-point attempts and utilized the deep shot as a deadly weapon. The massive number of shots from the arc was not frivolous play or a lack of discipline; it was a major part of New York’s offensive game plan to damage opponents.
After the loss to the Pacers on Saturday night in Indiana, the Knicks spoke to reporters about the specific reasons behind the minimal attempts.
“Honestly, I think we are doing it to ourselves,” Tyson Chandler stated. “I watched the tape myself and there’s open looks, we have to be willing passers. You have to sacrifice yourself for the betterment of the team, the betterment of your teammates. So, when you drive in the paint, you kick-it. I think we need to do a better job of allowing the game to dictate the shots not the individuals.”
Chandler explicitly detailed the necessary approach for New York to succeed from the arc. Indiana rarely double teams, which allows all defenders to stay at home on their assigned player. In order for shooters to receive some daylight on the perimeter, Carmelo Anthony, Iman Shumpert, Pablo Prigioni, Raymond Felton, and J.R. Smith will need to slash to the rim and force the Pacers to collapse near the paint. This is easier said than done against the league’s top 3-point percentage defense.
Tempo is another key component to the Knicks success at the 3-point line. New York features shooters that can hit the long ball in transition but more importantly, a faster pace will not allow Indiana’s staunch defense to get set and comfortable.
“I think a lot of it is the pace we’re playing – we are playing too slow,” head coach Mike Woodson reiterated at Sunday’s practice. “We have to pick-up our pace a little bit and not walk up floor as much. We are not getting any draw and kicks and playing too one side of the floor and that’s something we spoke about again today.”
Swinging the ball from side-to-side and working the weak side should jostle the Pacers strong defense. Additionally, side and high pick-and-rolls were successful in Game 2 for the Knicks, which is another tactic the road team can use to create more 3-point opportunities.
In a defensive-minded series, the 3-pointer can drastically change the outcome of the games. Watch the arc as the Knicks look for a barrage of shots from downtown to lock the series at 2-2 before heading back to New York.