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Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Inside the Knumbers: Knicks' first 3 wins

By Mark Simon


Each week throughout the season, we'll take a closer look at the Knicks performance from both a statistical and analytical perspective, with help from tools such as Basketball-Reference.com.

Trip through the history books
There are historical precedents for a successful season after a 3-0 start, though that shouldn’t be that surprising.

We’ve got the Knicks for 10 starts of 3-0 or better in their history (which dates to 1946-47). In the previous six 3-0s, the Knicks won at least 50 games five times and averaged 53.7 wins.

The only one of those seasons in which the Knicks didn’t win 50 games was 1976-77, they went 40-42.

The cool stat will be if the Knicks beat the Dallas Mavericks to get to 4-0. The previous two 4-0 starts came in the championship season of 1969-70 and the near-championship season of 1993-94.

What the shot chart shows
Atop this article is a Sportscenter Shooting Zone Chart, showing the Knicks' shooting successes (many) and failures (few) through the first three games.

The Knicks have shot lights-out from all areas behind the 3-point line, en route to making what Elias notes are the most 3-pointers in a team’s first three games (43) in NBA history.

The Knicks have six players with at least five 3-point makes, including J.R. Smith, who is 8-for-13. Smith closed 2011-12 with a very unmemorable 5-for-28 from 3-point range in the playoffs.

After going 11-for-27 (41 percent) inside the paint in the season opener against the Heat, the Knicks went 34-for-55 (62 percent) in the paint in the two games against the 76ers. That included the second and third quarters of Sunday’s win, in which the Knicks were a perfect 10-for-10

The player for whom that made a big difference was Carmelo Anthony, who was 2-for-10 in the paint against the Heat, but then went 8-for-12 with four paint baskets in each of the Knicks wins over the 76ers.

The Knicks' one weakness this season has been the mid-range left-side two-pointer.

That’s the gray area in which the team is 4-for-14 from the baseline and 2-for-13 from the left of the lane. Anthony and Smith are each 2-for-8 in shots in those areas.

Standing their ground
Much has been made about the Knicks improved defensive effort in their first three games. Of particular note is that in the same area in which the Knicks have not hit shots, opponents have also failed to do so.

In that left-side area, inside the 3-point line, Knicks opponents are just 8-for-32 in three games.

Numbers of note
Friday’s win:The opening-night win over the Heat was a very odd one in that the Knicks won by shooting 53 percent from 3-point range and only 35.4 percent on 2-point shots.

The Knicks are only the fourth team since the 1999-2000 season to make at least 15 3-pointers, shoot at least 50 percent on their 3-pointers, and shoot 36 percent or worse on their 2s in a regular-season game.

Coincidentally, the last team to do such a thing was the Heat in April 2008 against the Washington Wizards

Sunday’s win: The victory over the 76ers made Mike Woodson 20-6 in the regular season as Knicks head coach dating back to last season. That’s the quickest a Knicks coach has ever won his first 20 games with the team, surpassing the 29-game mark of Pat Riley.

Monday’s win: The Knicks were 19-for-19 from the foul line in Philadelphia, their best run of perfection since going 26-for-26 against the Washington Wizards on April 20, 2005.

Also of note: The Knicks' 22-point margin of victory was their largest road win in Philadelphia since Feb. 9, 1994 (114-79), and their second-largest there in the last 37 years.