With Chauncey Billups and Amar’e Stoudemire out with injuries, Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks back from an 11-point deficit to take the lead in the fourth quarter of Game 2 in Boston on Tuesday, before falling to the Celtics 96-93.
It was an amazing performance on a big stage. And how well the Knicks performed with such a depleted lineup could only make you shake your head.
But the idea of the Knicks playing well with only one of their three stars on the floor isn’t new. It’s actually been happening since they acquired Anthony.
“Right when I heard that Stoudemire was out,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said after Game 2, “I turned to Lawrence Frank and said, ‘Oh jeez, they’ve got us right where they want us right now.'”
Perhaps Doc had using NBA.com StatsCube before the game, because the numbers show that the Knicks have played better with just one star on the floor…
Knicks efficiency since Anthony trade (including playoffs)
|Stars on floor||MIN||OffRtg||DefRtg||Diff.||+/-||+/- per 48|
|Anthony, Billups & Stoudemire||498||108.2||108.4||-0.2||-2||-0.2|
|Anthony & Billups only||155||111.8||114.3||-2.4||-9||-2.8|
|Anthony & Stoudemire only||212||112.9||116.3||-3.4||-8||-1.8|
|Billups & Stoudemire only||39||107.5||110.0||-2.5||-4||-5.0|
|Two of the three||406||112.0||114.9||-2.9||-21||-2.5|
|One of the three||425||107.6||100.0||+7.5||+66||+7.5|
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
Obviously, the numbers with Billups come from too small a sample size to put much value in them. But it’s clear that the Knicks have been better when they’ve only got Anthony or Stoudemire on the floor, especially defensively, than when both are on the floor together.
There are only four Anthony-only lineups that have played at least 10 minutes together, and none of them played together for more than 6 1/2 minutes in any particular game. But overall, you’re looking at 190 effective minutes.
Billups and Stoudemire each had MRI exams on Wednesday. And as of Wednesday night, Billups is listed as “questionable” for Friday’s Game 3, while Stoudemire is listed as “day-to-day.”
The Knicks would love to have at least one of them back. But if they don’t have either, don’t underestimate what Anthony and the rest of his teammates can do. The data is pretty convincing.