New York Knicks Stat Monkey Brief: Knicks/Magic (1/30/13)

Need to know why the Knicks are only .500 in January? The first quarter tells the story.

Indulge the statistics nerd for me in a moment. One of the first things you learn in introductory statistics is the Law of Large Numbers, which states simply that the more times you conduct an experiment, your results will converge to a true mean. On Saturday night, Carmelo Anthony shot 9-28 from the field. Sunday? 15-28 from the field. Results? A two game shooting percentage of 43 percent, just below his career average of 46 percent. Isn’t math great?

It’s The First Quarter, Stupid

The Knicks accomplished something on Sunday they had only done two other times prior to Sunday in the month of January: hold a lead at the end of the first quarter. During this month, the Knicks (6-6) are trailing by an average of 2.6 points heading into the second, averaging 22.2 points per first quarter. Considering they’re still 10th in the NBA averaging 100.4 points per game, the Knicks pick their game up in the later quarters. With such an old roster, the Knicks could benefit from some quick starts to get players like Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler some extra rest.

Coming Up

Tonight starts a critical stretch for the Knicks if they want to gain some separation for a top seed in the East. The Knicks play six of their next nine games at home, six of those nine teams have losing records, and five of those teams are at least ten games under .500. The Knicks should be favored in at least seven of those nine, with a home game against the Clippers and their pre-All-Star contest in Indianapolis against the Pacers the two outliers.

With expected wins comes a question of effort - the Knicks looked like they had one too many cheesesteaks Saturday night, making Jrue Holiday look like Magic Johnson. I’ll give them a pass, as that was their first truly awful loss to an inferior team all season, and the effort returned Sunday against the Hawks. But if the Knicks aren’t careful tonight, they could make Jameer Nelson and Nikola Vucevic look like the second coming of Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal.