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New York Knicks: Small Ball Has Become Inevitable

Andrea Bargnani's Recent Injury Leaves the Knicks No Choice but to Go Back to a Small Lineup

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COMMENTARY | Murphy's law states, "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong."

That pretty much sums up the New York Knicks' entire season in a nutshell. Things have only gotten worse since Wednesday's loss to the Philadelphia 76ers at home, plummeting the Knicks to 0-3 on their eight-game home stretch. On top of that, Andrea Bargnani, New York's second-leading scorer, will miss three to six weeks with a torn ligament in his left arm.

I guess it's good news that he doesn't need surgery, but is it better news that the Knicks will now be forced into playing their successful small-ball style of play? I'm not saying Bargnani's injury is a good thing; I would never encourage any type of injury to any player. But this situation could potentially be a blessing in disguise for the struggling Knickerbockers.

Going down the line here, the Knicks are without Amar'e Stoudemire, Kenyon Martin, Metta World Peace, and now Andrea Bargnani. The only healthy frontcourt players remaining are Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Jeremy Tyler and Cole Aldrich.

How do I know the Knicks will inevitably go back to a small style of play? I know because Mike Woodson has yet to give Cole Aldrich meaningful minutes this season and Jeremy Tyler will have to back up Chandler. There's not much room to debate on that, however, what Woodson decides to do at the four will be interesting to watch.

Metta World Peace should hopefully be returning soon. There are times when I really do forget he's on this Knicks team -- I wonder if he feels the same way?

Anyhow, small ball, that is what the Knicks are pretty good at. Even if all these injuries hadn't accumulated, they should have still been utilizing their small lineup more often. Instead, Woodson has been about playing the players who make the most money instead of utilizing the players with the most energy. This continues to be one of the many errors he filed this season. Rotations have always seemed to be a mishap in Woodson's coaching style since last year's fallout with the Indiana Pacers in the playoffs. I would like to see Woodson re-acclimate the two-guard lineup that has seen the most success during Woodson's entire tenure in New York.

Starting Pablo Prigioni and Raymond Felton will also open up some floor time for Beno Udrih and a three-guard rotation -- the primary reason Udrih was reeled in over the summer. This should help Felton offensively, where he is better off the ball. He has greatly struggled all season from long range, shooting only 28%, which is flattening out his game. Defenders can easily lay off him to cut off his most favorable asset, dribble penetration. I wouldn't honor a guy that shoots under 30% from anywhere, either.

Now that the Knicks could, should, and will most likely go small, their three-point shooting is going to have to improve for this play style to be effective. As a team, the Knicks are shooting 37% from three this year, according to That's a slight dip from last year's 54 win team that shot just under 40%. However, that team was hitting about 10 threes a night. This year, they are only hitting about eight per game -- on less attempts. A smaller lineup should equal a few more attempts from long range per game.

Though it's a small sample size, playing only 40 total minutes together this season, the ideal small lineup of Prigioni, Felton, Iman Shumpert, Anthony and Chandler has a defensive rating (points opponents score per 100 possessions) of 76.4. That dwarfs over any lineup that has played more than 30 minutes together. The next closest being 91.1. That's a very telling number, especially considering the defensive struggles the Knicks have had.

Let's see if Mike Woodson properly handles the situation he has been handed. Also, please stop losing games at home. Please.

Steve has experienced all the possible feelings of an overwhelmed fan rooting for the Knicks. He now expresses those feelings to you, the readers of Yahoo, through balanced opinions and statistical analysis. You can follow Steve on Twitter @Steve_Scafidi.

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