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Thursday, December 5, 2013
Knicks, Nets underperforming in Big Apple

By Steven Martinez


Getty ImagesDespite their struggles, the Knicks and Nets both still have a chance at the Atlantic Division title.

Last week, Stats & Info looked at the struggles in efficiency that the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets have been dealing with this season.

On the heels of their first meeting of the season Thursday, here are a few more ways to look at the underperforming teams in the Big Apple.

Money can’t always buy you wins
Despite being the top two teams in terms of payroll this season, both teams rank in the bottom five in winning percentage.

A high payroll has had a low return on investment thus far for both New York teams, which are two of three teams that have failed to win consecutive games at any point this season, along with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Knicks 3-point prowess failing
The Knicks’ defense is an obvious problem without Tyson Chandler in the lineup. However, the offensive struggles through 16 games are what make this Knicks team a completely different one from what they were a year ago.

Through 16 games last season, the Knicks led the NBA in offensive efficiency at 111.2 points per 100 possessions. Entering Thursday, they have scored 12.2 fewer points per 100 possessions.

A key reason for their offensive regression has been their inability to sustain their prolific 3-point shooting from last season.

New York led the NBA in 3-point field goals made per game, percentage of field goal attempts from 3-point range and percent of total team points from the 3-point line last season, setting single-season NBA records for each category in the process. This season, their numbers are down in each of those areas as they rank 28th in the league from 3-point range (32.2 percent).

Despite being the only NBA player to lead his team in scoring in every game this season, Carmelo Anthony has not been exempt from poor 3-point shooting. He’s shooting 27.7 percent from beyond the arc, worst since the 2006-07 season with the Denver Nuggets.

Nets are inefficient
Across the bridge in Brooklyn, the Nets have faltered as well. They rank last in the league in defensive efficiency and 28th in net efficiency this season.

The Nets have not been able to execute efficiently down the stretch in close games this season. They have the worst plus/minus in clutch time (last 5 minutes, score within 5 points) of any team this season, posting a -32.

The inability to execute down the stretch has been compounded by the loss of Deron Williams, who has missed nine of the last 10 games with ankle issues. The Nets are 6-18 without Williams in the last three seasons, including 2-7 thus far this season.

All hope is not lost
Despite their poor starts, the Knicks and Nets have a legitimate chance to win the Atlantic Division this season if either team puts together a solid win streak.

Entering Thursday, New York is three games behind the first-place Celtics (8-12), while Brooklyn is just two games out.

Every team in the Atlantic Division is at least five games under .500 entering Thursday. According to Elias Sports, since 1970-71, when the NBA went to two conferences and four divisions, only two teams have finished a season under .500 and won their division (1971-72 Baltimore Bullets and 1975-76 Milwaukee Bucks). Neither team won a playoff series.