Breaking Down the NY Knicks Go-to Plays

John Dorn@JSDorn6Correspondent IIIApril 20, 2013

When J.R. Smith's three-point attempts are coming primarily off catch-and-shoots, the Knicks should be in a good position to win.
When J.R. Smith's three-point attempts are coming primarily off catch-and-shoots, the Knicks should be in a good position to win.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The New York Knicks finished with the franchise's best record since the 1996-97 season, and with the third-most efficient offense league-wide.

As you can guess, it didn't happen by accident.

New York's offensive attack consisted of methodical attacks that developed over the course of the season, and by now, the Knicks seem to have the art of scoring down pat.

There's been several go-to options that Mike Woodson has opted for as of late, and he's rarely disappointed with their outcomes. These are some of those strategies that have helped establish the Knicks has one of the best offensive teams in the NBA.


Prigioni-Felton-Chandler Double-Handoff Pick-and-Roll

This play was first evident during the April 7 matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The play starts with Pablo Prigioni handling the ball along the side, as Tyson Chandler comes up to receive it and Raymond Felton sets up in the corner.

*Prigioni is out for at least Game 1 with a sprained ankle, but Jason Kidd could presumably be substituted in for Pablo here.

With Chandler holding the ball along the three-point line. Felton comes around to receive a hand-off from the center, as Prigioni picks Felton's man then bolts to the top of the set. 

With Chandler rolling towards the basket and Prigioni headed back to Felton's opposite side at the arc, Felton will have two options as he curls to his left. 

Russell Westbrook is left as the man in charge of impeding Chandler's route to the rim, thanks to an OKC switch. His instincts also, however, tell him to act on Prigioni, who's seemingly open for a spot-up three. 

When Westbrook takes a half-step towards the three-point line to step out to the perimeter, that's all the time Felton needs to feed Chandler for the easy finish.

Here's how it unfolded in real-time early in that Sunday contest.

Against the Boston Celtics over the course of the first round, New York can look to exploit them on defense this way for buckets.


J.R Smith Catch-and-Shoot Threes

Over the last 15 regular season games, J.R. Smith reinvented himself as a drive-first offensive attacker, and has done much less settling for perimeter shots. 

That being said, Smith can still be a lethal shooter from beyond the arc—especially in catch-and-shoot situations. Below are J.R.'s catch-and-shoot makes from the team's last month of play. Notice how he rarely has time to dribble or consider any nearby defenders.

According to, 81.3 percent of Smith's made threes have come off of an assist, leaving just 18.7 percent of those 155 makes coming unassisted.

As we've seen over the last month, J.R. is clearly at his best when he's attacking and driving. But when defenses leave him open for quick three attempts, it's important for the Knicks to realize and take advantage.


Carmelo Anthony in Isolation

What we've failed to discuss to this point is what the Knicks' offense is more or less based off of—Carmelo Anthony getting isolation looks.

Against Boston, the Knicks have a variety of ways they can attack this strategy. The C's will likely throw a bevy of defenders at 'Melo in one-on-one situations. Paul Pierce, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and even Kevin Garnett may all see time in a defensive pair with Anthony.

When being fronted by a defender, Anthony has had some difficulty getting loose and finding the basketball. Lately, however, he's broken out a nifty tool to grab a quick bucket.

Against fronts and/or bigger 4s like Josh Smith or David West (and potentially Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass), 'Melo has recently broken out a backdoor spin to free himself up for alley-oop feeds. 

Against larger opponents, 'Melo won't always be able to swoop to the rim with as much ease as he's accustomed to. The above move will be nifty, but obviously can't be something to rely on.

In the two games between New York and Boston in which Kevin Garnett was in the Celtics' lineup, Carmelo shot just 5-of-20 from the mid-range. 

Anthony's court awareness and ball movement will need to be at its best during the series—him swinging to open perimeter shooters will be necessary in order for the Knicks to come out on top. Because his usual mid-range dominance will likely be challenged by the Celts' size they'll throw against him.

The Knicks clearly have a number of ways they can attack Boston on the offense. By implementing and revising some elements that have gotten them this far, Mike Woodson's club shouldn't have a problem putting up points on Boston's formidable D.

Follow me on Twitter at @JSDorn6.

Stats and shot charts used from and Basketball-Reference.


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