The 2013 NBA Playoffs begin on April 20, 2013. For the first time since 2001, the New York Knicks are set to be a top four seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Knicks also won their division for the first time since 1994, almost a full 20 years.
Despite the success of basketball in New York this season, there are legitimate concerns about the Knicks' ability to truly contend in the playoffs; these concerns were only accentuated by the Chicago Bulls on April 11.
All season long, the New York Knicks have lived by the three-pointer.
The Knicks lead the NBA in three-pointers attempted per game with 28.9 a game and three-pointers made with 10.9 a game. They are also fifth in the league in percentage at 37.6. The Knicks have been able to keep even the most talented teams at bay by constantly threatening to shoot the three.
However, three-point shooting oftentimes does not translate to the playoffs. During the 2012 regular season, teams who made the playoffs averaged 35.6 percent from the floor. During the playoffs, those teams were held to only 33.3 percent from the field. Out of 16 playoff teams, only three posted a better three-point percentage in the playoffs than the regular season.
Against the Chicago Bulls, the Knicks started the game seven-for-eleven from the three-point line. During this streak of hot three-point shooting, the Knicks maintained a lead that reached as high as 17 points and maintained it through the majority of three quarters.
The issue was not living by the three-point jumper, the issue is what happened when the shots stopped falling. After the hot shooting ended, the Knicks shot a paltry 3-for-19 from the three-point line. In that time span, Chicago was able to come back from the big deficit and win in overtime, even though Chicago is not a team that tends to go on big streaks.
Chicago is currently sixth in the NBA in three-point field goal percentage, so there is certainly an argument that this was a fluke game against a great defense.
That certainly is optimistic, but the Knicks are scheduled to play Boston in Round 1, who is rated third. And if things stay true to form, they will be playing the top rated three-point defense, Indiana, in Round 2.
Defenses are only going to gameplan and learn to defend the Knicks' three-point barrage as we get into the playoffs. Heading forward, the Knicks' reliance on the long-ball will create problems and prevent New York from being legitimate contenders.