The New York Knicks’ 102-90 victory over a depleted Miami Heat team playing without three starters, including LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, turned out to feature some of the most unprecedented numbers that haven’t been seen in nearly two decades.
Carmelo Anthony dropped 50 on only 26 shots. Coach Erik Spoelstra certainly didn’t make Anthony’s job difficult when having Udonis Haslem defend him for the majority of the contest.
However, Anthony’s 50 points were all scored outside of the paint. Every last shot, 26 in all, were taken from outside of the paint. Of those 26, 18 found a way to fall.
It’s the first time in 17 years that a player has made that many jumpers in a single game.
Once again, it’s another Heat opponent having a spectacular day shooting. And he wasn’t alone, either. The Knicks shot 14-of-27 as a team, the third time the Knicks have made at least 14 threes against the Heat this season, and scored a total of 18 points in the paint.
Of the Knicks 102 points, 17 percent came from the paint via layups and dunks. The other 83 percent was simply the Knicks knocking down jumpers from as close as ten feet and as far out as 30.
The Knicks not only sustained incredible jump shooting, but they thrived off of it. As stated before, it’s the third time the Knicks have drained an unreasonable amount of jumpers.
New York had a combined 39 three-pointers in the first two games, both wins.
The Chicago Bulls, a team that ranks dead last in points per game at 93 and 27th in field-goal percentage at 43.6 percent, dropped 101 points on one of the league’s top defenses.
How many points did one of the worst offenses in the NBA score from outside of the paint that game? 61. 60 percent of Chicago’s scores came from outside of the painted area.
Basically, this supposedly inept Bulls team, one that scored 67 in the previous meeting against Miami, found a way to maintain an overall field-goal percentage of 47 percent by scoring 60 percent of their baskets on jumpers.
Miami is forcing the opposition into taking low-percentage shots. They’re just making them. Usually the opposition will fall apart come fourth quarter and the Heat’s defense clamps down, but it’s been absolutely bewildering and mind-blowing to watch Miami opponents consistently hit low-percentage shots for up to 48 minutes.
The Utah Jazz are another example of a team shooting out of their collective minds against the Heat.
Of the Jazz’ 104 points, only 38 of them came from inside of the paint. That’s 69 percent of Utah’s offensive output coming off of jumpers.
A few days prior to that loss, the Heat surrendered 92 points in a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Miami allowed 38 points in the paint, but ended up falling because of jumpers falling that don’t usually fall.
Namely: a step-back fadeaway three-pointer by Wesley Matthews for the go-ahead points.
Do I need to get into the Detroit Pistons, a team with the 18th highest three-point percentage, shooting 12-of-19 in a ten-point victory earlier in the season?
Or how about the Golden State Warriors scoring 36 points in the paint in a 97-95 win over Miami? 63 percent of the Warriors offensive output came from outside of the paint, and that was enough to give the Heat one of their four losses at home.
In New York’s 112-92 win over Miami in their second meeting, the Knicks had a grand total of 70 percent of their offensive output come from outside of the paint. This was a Knicks team playing without Carmelo Anthony.
The game before that against Washington in a 105-101 loss? Washington was outscored 56-34 in the paint, yet pulled out a victory despite having 66 percent of their offense that night coming off of jumpers.
107-100 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers? Miami won the points in the paint battle, against a team with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, 38-32 and the game wasn’t as close as the score indicates.
104-86 win loss to the Memphis Grizzlies? The team whose two top players were Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol won because 62 percent of their output was supported off of jumpers, including seven three-pointers from Wayne Ellington.
Get ready for this one. In the Knicks’ 104-84 win against the Heat in their season-opener, New York scored 22 points from inside the painted area while knocking down 19 three-pointers.
New York had 79 percent of their points come from outside of the paint. And they scored 104 points. And won by 20. And shot 53 percent on 36 three-point attempts.
And I’m not even going to get into the Heat’s near-losses against teams that have shot uncharacteristically well.
The Milwaukee Bucks blowout win in December, the January losses to the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers, the February loss to the Pacers, and a January loss to the Boston Celtics are the only Heat losses this season that can be attributed to something other than great jump shooting.
Do you want to know my favorite thing about these stats? It’s not going to last. I have yet to witness a team that can consistently win games with at least 60 percent of their offensive output deriving from jumpers.
The Knicks hay have hit 53 three-pointers in their three wins against the Heat in the regular season, but defenses are too stingy and coaches are quicker to make adjustments in a seven-game series.
If the Bulls want to continue having at least 60 percent of their offense come off of jumpers, let them. They’ll have their moments in individual games in the regular season, but those types of numbers aren’t sustainable throughout a playoff series, let alone the entire duration of the playoffs.
The Heat’s offense is designed for the purpose of having their opponents take jumpers. It’s a proven system that’s brought the Heat to consecutive NBA Finals and won an NBA championship.
Miami will deal with losses if it means Carmelo Anthony having to score all 50 of his points from outside of the paint to beat the LeBron and Dwyane-less Heat. All it means is they did exactly what they were supposed to do: force the opponent to win from outside of the paint.
That method has the Heat ranking near the top of the league in defensive efficiency and with an NBA-best 58-16 record. Miami is tied for fourth in three-pointers allowed, giving up nearly 22 three-pointers per game.
Those attempts aren’t indicative of the Heat playing poor perimeter defense. It’s an obvious tell of the Heat daring their opponents to shoot, making them beat them by shooting over the top.
Teams like the Knicks and Bulls have had their regular season glory thanks in part to shooting that is impossible to sustain for seven games.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the Heat in the first two seasons of the “Big Three” era, it’s this:
Layups will always fall, jumpers won’t.