Melo’s Minutes Per Game May IS the Series’ Biggest Factor

Tommy Dee

Sometimes things become over complicated, especially when it comes to talking about the game of basketball. Critics and analysts can point to history or trends or formulas to dictate or speculate why a series will end up one way or the other. Many times that’s a waste of space.

For the record, I enjoyed Chris Herring’s piece and overall work. Others talk about PER 36, for example,, which is a metric designed to tally a player’s production. That, to me, is the definition of a regular season stat. Throw it away. Why? Because your productive players in the playoffs have to ACTUALLY PLAY minutes. You have a distinct advantage if your star player can ACTUALLY PLAY a lot of minutes.

I don’t care about Melo’s Nuggets, nor do I care about what he did with Landry Fields. I care about the guy that has been a different player since last summer during the Olympics. Remember the guy who guarded 5s? Remember the guy who on more than a few occasions was the best player on earth in London?

I understand what the Celtics are trying to do and will try to do. They want to get the Knicks shooters out of rhythm and try to resurrect Melo The Selfish. I get that they think J.R. Smith’s psyche is paper thin and that their own warrior mentality will pose a major threat in the series.

But here’s my thing. For all the talk about age and the jokes about the Knicks supporting cast, their core players can log heavy minutes in this series. Kevin Garnett’s minutes needs to be managed. So do Paul Pierce’s to a degree.

Mike Woodson can run Melo out 42-45 minutes in game 1 and 2. He can play JR Smith in that neighborhood too. Ray Felton, at 28, can play 38 plus and Tyson Chandler can give you equal to not more minutes per game, based off his conditioning, that Garnett gives the Celtics.

Let’s take it a step further. If Garnett is the key to the series from Boston’s standpoint, as many suggest, then let’s take a look at his minutes. At 35 years of age last year, KG played 20 playoff games and averaged 36.9 minutes per game. A year older, that number simply cannot go up. While in the playoffs in his physcial prime ages 25-27 Garnett never averaged less than 43 minutes per game.

In the playoffs last year at age 34, Paul Pierce managed 38.9 minutes per game, a number that I think would stay the same at the age of 35. So you can deduce that if KG and Pierce both average 35-38 minutes per game then they are going to need serious help to win the 10-13 minutes that they are not on the floor at the same time. And Mike Woodson can make that task much harder by playing Melo, Chandler and J.R. Smith during that time. That’s important because without Garnett on the floor the Celtics, a team 2nd to last in total rebounding, will be at a severe disadvantage if Melo and Chandler can clean up on the offensive glass.

To me, the fact that Melo can simply PLAY more minutes is a major plus for the Knicks and that’s the number that I look at as most important. It’s not a theory, formula or hypothesis, it’s a real tangible thing. How Melo executes in those minutes is important as is another factor that can interrupt how many minutes he plays.

Foul trouble.

Execution and whistles. That’s what the playoffs are about.

Knicks in 5.