Friday, 7 December 2012

Knicks success stems from 3-point range

The New York Knicks visit the Miami Heat tonight in a meeting of the two best records in the Eastern Conference. The Heat have revenge on the mind, as the Knicks served them with their worst loss of the season, a 20-point defeat in early November.

In five home meetings last season (two regular season, three postseason), however, the Heat had no trouble against New York, winning by an average of 15.8 points.

Tonight will feature a matchup of two of the most efficient offenses in the NBA this season. The Knicks are tied for first in the NBA averaging 110.9 points per 100 possessions, while the Heat are third averaging 110.1.

The Knicks (13-4) are off to their best 17-game start since beginning the 1995-96 season 13-4. A significant reason behind their success has stemmed from long-distance. The Knicks average an NBA-high 11.8 three-point field goals made this season, and New York has relied on long-distance buckets, as 34.4 percent of their total points have come from three-point field goals, by far the most in the NBA.

No other team has more than 26.5 percent.

A significant contributor from long range has been Jason Kidd, who leads the NBA this season in 3-point field goal percentage (51.1).

Much of the turnaround in New York is thanks to Mike Woodson. Since he took over as Knicks head coach, the team is 31-10 in regular-season games, and only the Spurs have recorded a higher win percentage over that span.

James Continues to Power Heat

LeBron James has recorded at least 20 points in 16 consecutive games to start the season, the longest streak in his career. According to Elias, James is just the third different player since the 2000-01 season with a streak that long to start a season. What's more, James has eight games this season with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, two more than any other player.

James has helped power an offense that ranks first in field goal percentage (49.3), second in three-point shooting (41.3) and second in scoring offense (104.4 PPG).

Despite their success on offense, however, the Heat have taken a step back defensively this season.

Miami ranks 20th in defensive efficiency allowing 103.2 points per 100 possessions, a category that the Heat ranked among the top five in during each of the first two seasons of their "Big 3" era.

Catherine Deelay Michelle Branch

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