Welcome, class. Today we’ll be using basic math to discuss the future of your New York Knickerbockers, using yesterday’s 125-116 double-overtime victory over the Detroit Pistons as a springboard. Once again, the numbers show that we let a solid lead in the fourth disappear (up by 6 with barely more than 2 minutes to go), but once again the final tally reveals we still managed to hang on for the win. More numbers? The victory brought us back up to .500, our 9-9 record keeping us at 7 in the east, only 1/2 a game back from the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat for the #5 spot. Most of our wins have been against teams with losing records, and we do keep letting teams get back into games, so once again we wonder if we should be optimistic or view our record as a fluke? Let’s dig further into the most basic of numbers to see if we can answer that question.
The thing is, class, this is a league of the haves and have-nots. Our merely middling record leaves us, unsurprisingly, right in the, well, middle at #15 overall. 14 teams are better, 15 are worse. By my math, as long as we keep beating the bad teams since there are more of ‘em, we’ll end up in the win column. Then again, we’ve already lost 5 games to losing teams. And we’ve only beaten 1 team (Chicago) with a winning record. By my math, if we continue winning (and losing) at that rate, then we sure ain’t gonna end up in the playoffs. Then again, we only play against teams in the West 2x, while East coast teams we play 3-4 times. Since only 6 of the 15 East coast teams have winning records (versus 8 of the 15 in the West), that means we get to feast on more weak teams. By my math, we can then lose a few games to sub-.500 teams and still remain over .500 ourselves.
Looking at it from another angle, we’re at 7-4 on the road. Again, yes, we’ve mostly played mediocre teams, but still, road victories tend to be much tougher than home bouts. In fact, those 11 away games are the most played in the league. Only 3 other teams have even played 10. By my math, that means we’re looking pretty good in that category, leaving us with an easier path ahead (only 30 roadies remaining while others have as many as 35). The 18 games we’ve played are tied for most in the league. Lots of games squished together tend to leave players tired and lead to losses. With less games remaining over the remainder of the season, we should be getting more rest than other teams and thus be more ready to compete at a top level. By my math, that’s good stuff. During the early part of the season, both the Knicks and the fans had no faith in the team, so we tended to tighten up in home games. With everyone believing more now, our home games should finally once again give us a big home court boost rather than a deterrence. By my math, that’s some pretty loud chants of “De-Fense!”
Danilo Gallinari only shot over 37% from the field (overall, not just from distance) in 3 of our first 11 games. In only 2 of the last 7 has he shot that poorly. By my math, if I’m graphing it correctly, he’s trending in the right direction. In 4 of our first 8 games, Amar’e Stoudemire had SIX or more turnovers (games with 6, 6, 8 and, yikes, 9). In the last 10, it’s only happened 2x (once it was 6, the other time 7). Still not great, but by my math, it’s a notable improvement. Big men tend to shoot high percentages since they’re near the basket, with top guys at least in the high 40s, but more often in the 50s. In our first nine games, Amar’e only shot better than 47.1% three times. Since then he’s shot 52.6% or better in 7 of 9 games. By anyone’s math, that’s a huuuuge leap. And the reason he’s got it going on hasn’t been because his shot is just falling now, it’s because he’s been getting the ball in better places and hasn’t been forcing the issue as much. By my math, that means the improvement isn’t some statistical fluke that’ll vanish shortly.
Only 1 of our next 6 opponents has a winning record. If I calculate properly, that means we should have a record over .500 on December 11th. Our next 14 foes will only feature two teams that currently have losing records (Cleveland and Phoenix) and both of them could easily be at .500 or better by then. By my math, that means we’re gonna hit a serious losing streak and everyone will be screaming for the head of coach Mike D’Antoni on a platter with a side of cheese. In other words, after our game against the Utah Jazz on January 12th, the numbers are gonna be so ugly that we likely will need to enroll in Math 102 for the Fall semester.