Knicks Fall to Raptors Amid Flurry of 3-Pointers

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On Pro Basketball

A devotion to long-distance shots has changed the Knicks’ attack and their results. But is trading 3s for 3s a winning strategy?

Julius Randle made each  4  of his 3-pointers successful  the archetypal  4th   connected  Monday.
Credit...Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Sopan Deb

Nov. 2, 2021, 7:05 a.m. ET

Near the extremity of the archetypal 4th connected Monday, Julius Randle, the Knicks’ burly All-Star forward, pulled up and banked successful a changeable from 25 feet. It was the benignant of changeable that mightiness person sent him to the seat successful a erstwhile epoch of basketball, oregon adjacent connected a erstwhile Tom Thibodeau-coached team. On Monday, it was Randle’s 4th 3-pointer successful 12 minutes.

It was besides a changeable emblematic of the new-look Knicks: This year’s mentation is taking 3-pointers. Lots of them. In the archetypal 4th unsocial against the Toronto Raptors connected Monday, 13 of the Knicks’ 19 shots — and 5 of Randle’s — were from down the 3-point line. The attack has been a hallmark of the caller Bing Bong-era of the Knicks, and it is portion of the crushed Thibodeau’s squad is disconnected to a 5-2 start, the franchise’s champion since the 2012-13 season.

In their 2nd game, the Knicks acceptable a squad grounds for astir 3-pointers successful a crippled with 24, en way to a 121-96 victory. This year, the Knicks are taking 40.6 heavy shots per game; that is good for eighth successful the league and is 10 much per crippled than past season, erstwhile the Knicks ranked adjacent the bottom of the league successful attempts.

“With the 3, you tin marque up crushed quickly,” Thibodeau said. Or not. On Monday, the Knicks tried 36 of them, made little than fractional and absorbed their 2nd decision of the season, a 114-103 nonaccomplishment to the Raptors.

While the Knicks didn’t effort arsenic galore 3s past season, they were close successful the fewer they shot: 39.2 percent implicit all, bully for 3rd successful the N.B.A. This year, they are adjacent the apical successful accuracy again, lone with much volume. At their existent rate, the Knicks are connected way to person a top-five discourtesy for the archetypal clip since that 2012-13 team.

The Knicks person besides picked up their pace, if lone slightly. Last season, the Knicks were dead past successful accelerated interruption points. This year, they are 22nd.

“I deliberation this is the fastest I’ve seen them play for a agelong time,” Toronto Coach Nick Nurse said earlier Monday’s game.

The aboriginal affirmative returns connected the Knicks play are the clearest denotation that Thibodeau — a manager known for stubborn adherence to his marque of carnal hoops — is susceptible of adjusting to the caller realities of the modern N.B.A. He has reinvented the team’s violative individuality with a elemental mantra.

“Drive the ball, get your spacing, marque your rim work — support the crippled simple,” Thibodeau told reporters connected Monday, adding, “When we bash that, we’re truly good.”

Still, the modulation to a much 3-pointer-heavy discourtesy wasn’t simply a lawsuit of telling the squad to sprout much of them.

Thibodeau received a important assistance — oregon by immoderate interpretations, had his manus forced — by a displacement successful personnel. Last season, the Knicks’ starting constituent guard was Elfrid Payton, a nonshooter whom opposing defenses would often disregard connected the perimeter, clogging the overgarment for Randle and leaving him much susceptible to treble teams. This year, Kemba Walker has occupied that spot, and helium entered Monday nighttime shooting an astir assuredly unsustainable 57.9 percent on 3-pointers.

It is not conscionable having amended shooters. Walker and Evan Fournier are superior ballhandlers, and their arrival, on with the improved RJ Barrett, allows the Knicks to much easy interruption down defenses and make unfastened opportunities connected the outside.

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Credit...Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Having a steadfast Mitchell Robinson successful the starting lineup has been a boost arsenic well. At 7 feet, Robinson draws attraction astatine the rim arsenic 1 of the Knicks’ champion alley-oop threats astatine the basket. That gives the Knicks much abstraction connected the perimeter to make unfastened looks.

If determination is simply a worrisome sign, it is connected the antiaircraft end, wherever the Knicks person been beneath average — thing highly antithetic for a Thibodeau-coached team. While the Knicks person been taking a batch of 3s, they besides give up a lot — much than each but 2 teams successful the N.B.A.

Their caller acquisitions — Walker and Fournier — aren’t known for their defense. On Tuesday, the Knicks surrendered looks — and points — connected the wrong and extracurricular to Raptors guardant OG Anunoby, who scored 36 points. While Toronto made lone 14 of its 42 3-point shots, it was capable to pad a double-digit pb successful the 2nd half.

Seven games isn’t a immense illustration size. Inevitably, immoderate shooting numbers, similar Walker’s, volition instrumentality to earth. But the new-look Knicks, with a sleek, modern offense, look to person the unit to merit their aboriginal optimism.

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