Here's an exciting math problem for you: with two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Knicks are in sole possession of the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference with a .434 winning percentage and the Hawks are in 9th place in the Eastern Conference with a .432 winning percentage. If both the Knicks and Hawks record identical .500 winning percentages over their remaining regular season games, which team will make the playoffs?
Answer: The Hawks
Isn't math fun!
Here's another stimulating bit of information: over the course of the next week, the Knicks can go winless and still extend their lead over Atlanta to a full game. They could also go undefeated and drop a full game behind the Hawks in the standings. Does your brain hurt yet? Good, then we can begin.
Player of the Week - Iman Shumpert
Over the course of the four games highlighted in this week's Wonder Room, Shump averaged 5.5 points, 2 rebounds, and 0.8 assists, while shooting 41% from the field. With the defense he played against Brooklyn though, he could've averaged all zeroes and still been named player of the week. Wednesday night, the Knicks defensive rating with Shumpert on the court was 36 points better than it was with him off the court. Over the course of the entire season, the Knicks defense gives up 8.6 fewer points per 100 possessions with Shumpert on the court than it does without him. This is the highest single season on/off court differential of any Knicks player in the 21st century with a minimum of 1500 minutes played. (Conversely, the Knicks gave up 90 more points per 100 possessions with Chris Smith on the court than they give up without him.)
I'll admit that I was one of those who wouldn't have been that upset if Shumpert had been traded at the deadline, but in hindsight it's a good thing the trade fell through. He still shoots from outside way too often for my tastes - frankly, I think that one Shumpert three pointer is one too many - but there is no denying that the Knicks go from hopeless to competent on the defensive end when he's on the floor. Even the more traditional defensive stats showed Shumpert's worth on Wednesday night. His 5 steals in 24 minutes were the first time that a Knick has recorded that many steals in such little playing time since he himself did it last February against Golden State. Prior to that, no Knick had done it since Charlie Ward had 5 steals in 23 minutes on November 4, 1997.
Opposing Player of the Week - Archie Goodwin
What a week it was for Suns rookie guard Archie Goodwin. Not only did he watch his Kentucky Wildcats advance to the Final Four, but he also managed to put up a boxscore line that the Knicks have not witnessed in seven years. On Friday night, Goodwin recorded 1 point, 1 rebound, 1 assist, and 1 steal. He is the first Knicks opponent to have that exact line since Eric Snow did it on March 23, 2007, and only the fourth Knicks opponent to have those numbers in the past 25 years. He also became the first Suns player with the exact line since Tom Gugliotta on November 5, 2004.
Honorable Mention - Paul Pierce
Bluecheese Wonder Room rule #238: Paul Pierce is never allowed to receive a Player of the Week designation. As such, he only receives an honorable mention for becoming the active leader in career regular season games played against Knicks, with 56. That record is likely to be tied on Sunday, when Ray Allen appears in his 56th game against the Knicks, before Pierce can potentially break it again when the Knicks visit Brooklyn on April 15th.
Bluecheese's Rambling Stat of the Week - (WARNING! May not end in a coherent thought)
On Sunday, the Knicks managed to beat the Warriors despite shooting 40% from the field. It was the first time the Knicks have won a road game in which they shot exactly 40% from the field since April 1, 2001, when the beat the Lakers 79-78. Kobe Bryant was scoreless in 11 minutes that night because of an injured ankle. It was the first time Kobe was scoreless in a home game since his rookie season. On February 23, 1997, Kobe had no points in 4 minutes in a 127-121 Knicks win over the Lakers. That game, Patrick Ewing had 25 rebounds. The next time a Knick had 25 rebounds in a game came 16 years later, when Tyson Chandler had 28 on February 27, 2013, in a 109-105 win over the Warriors. Steph Curry scored 54 points for the Warriors in the loss. It was the first 50 point game against the Knicks since Carmelo Anthony had 50 in the Nuggets 128-125 win over the Knicks on November 27, 2009. Al Harrington came off the bench to lead the Knicks in scoring that night with 41 points. The next game that Harrington led the Knicks in scoring as a reserve came nearly a month later, on December 22, 2009. That night, Harrington had 20 points as the Knicks beat the Bulls 88-81 despite shooting just 40% from the field. It was the last time that the Knicks won a game in which they shot exactly 40% from the field...until they did it against the Warriors on Sunday night!
Last Week in Jared Jeffries History
In the previous edition of Last Week in Jared Jeffries History we learned that Jeffries had taken his college basketball team to the Final Four in 2002. Now it's time to find out if he was able to lead his underdog squad to a National Title.
On March 30, 2002, Indiana played Oklahoma for the right to move on to the National Title game. The second-seeded Sooners did not have a single future NBA player, but were led by All-American Hollis Price, who would carve out a nice career in Europe. That night, however, Price shot just 1-11 from the field. Jeffries had 8 points and 8 rebounds to help lead Indiana past Oklahoma 73-64, and put them one win away from a National Title.
Unfortunately, the dream run for Indiana died just short of the finish line on April 1, 2002. Jeffries once again scored 8 points in the National Title game, but this time it wasn't enough. Maryland, led by future NBA players Juan Dixon, Steve Blake, Chris Wilcox, and Lonny Baxter, led nearly the entire way, beating Indiana 64-52.
Last Week in Jared Jeffries Shot Tracker History
Apparently, I thought that the Knicks win over the Magic on March 28, 2011 was the game of the year.
JJST Memorial Fun Fact of Whatever Time of Day this Article is on the Front Page of P&T
J.R. Smith attempted 12 threes in Wednesday night's win over the Nets, the 10th time this season he's attempted at least 10 threes in one game. This is this fourth year that Smith has attempted at least 10 threes in a game 10 times in a season. Only one other player in NBA history has done that: Ray Allen, who has done it in five separate seasons.
Bluecheese Answers Your Questions
This week's question actually came a month ago, courtesy of Hart26 (with some assistance from JohnCassillo.)
The Knicks are 6-8 all time in games when jerseys are being retired. They are 4-4 in games when Knicks jerseys are retired and 2-4 in games when opposing jerseys are being retired. Here's the full list:
Red Auerbach (Celtics) - 105-94 Celtics win
Dick Barnett and Red Holzman (same night) - 110-91 win over the Nets
Bill Bradley - 112-102 win over the Nets
Dave DeBusschere - 118-116 loss to the Celtics
Mark Eaton (Jazz) - 99-88 Jazz win
Patrick Ewing - 118-110 2OT win over the Magic
Walt Frazier - 99-96 loss to the Celtics
Tim Hardaway (Heat) - 115-93 Heat win
Zydrunas Ilgauskas (Cavaliers) - 107-97 Knicks win
Dick McGuire - 96-94 OT loss to the Nets
Earl Monroe - 102-100 loss to the Nets
Willis Reed - 102-97 win over the Lakers
Bill Russell (Celtics) - 112-109 Celtics win
Buck Williams (Nets) - 93-78 Knicks win
Movie of the Week - Closer
I couldn't think of the perfect movie to describe this week, so I'll finish with the cheesiest (pun intended) play on words I can think of. Contrary to what the standings might say, the Knicks have not caught the Hawks just yet. Although the Knicks have a better winning percentage, the Hawks have a one game lead in the loss column and hold the tiebreak. No the Knicks have not caught the Hawks, but after last week, they're getting closer.