The 1971 Los Angeles Lakers (#34) @ The 1971 New York Knicks (#31)
Record: '71 Knicks, 52 wins (25th) > ‘71 Lakers, 48 wins (32nd)
RSRS: ‘71 Knicks, +5.05 (17th) > ‘71 Lakers, +3.27 (26th)
PSRS: '71 Lakers, +4.15 (27th) > ‘71 Knicks, -0.26 (36th)
When the '71 Lakers have Possession:
Overall Comparison, '71 Lakers' offense vs '71 Knicks’' defense:
Regular Season: +1.6 Offensive Rating (21st) vs -3.9 Defensive Rating (13th): -2.6 expected
Playoffs: +0.3 Offensive Rating (31st) vs -2.2 Defensive Rating (25th): -1.9 expected
PG: Gail Goodrich, 20.6% SS on +2.1% rTS, 2.9 / 4.1
SG: Keith Erickson, 16.0% SS on -0.6% rTS, 4.8 / 2.7 (missing games 4 & 6)
SF: Jim McMillian, 17.1% SS on -0.6% rTS, 3.5 / 1.4
PF: Happy Hairston, 21.3% SS on +2.2% rTS, 8.6 / 1.8
C: Wilt Chamberlain, 18.3% SS on +5.8% rTS, 15.7 / 3.7
6th: Willie McCarter, 20.0% SS on -6.9% rTS, 1.4 / 1.5
When the '71 Knicks have Possession:
Overall Comparison, '71 Knicks' offense vs '71 Lakers' defense:
Regular Season: +0.6 Offensive Rating (28th) vs -1.1 Defensive Rating (32nd): -0.5 expected
Playoffs: -3.6 Offensive Rating (37th) vs -2.8 Defensive Rating (19th): -6.4 expected
PG: Walt Frazier, 19.6% SS on +5.6% rTS, 6.1 / 6.0
SG: Dick Barnett, 19.9% SS on -1.3% rTS, 2.6 / 2.4
SF: Bill Bradley, 18.6% SS on -1.0% rTS, 2.9 / 3.2
PF: Dave DeBusschere, 20.7% SS on -4.2% rTS, 9.9 / 2.4
C: Willis Reed, 22.7% SS on +1.0% rTS, 12.2 / 1.8
6th: Dave Stallworth, 21.8% SS on -1.7% rTS, 3.8 / 1.2
1. Injuries: Keith Erickson misses 2 games for the Lakers.
2. The Lakers were absolutely wrecked by injuries. Jerry West wasn’t available for the playoffs. Keith Erickson missed some games. Their offense was built, to some extent, on West’s volume scoring and without him it struggled some in the playoffs. To pick up the slack Gail Goodrich exploded his volume, taking 27% of his team’s shots in the postseason, while not letting his efficiency suffer. On some level, it can be argued that the reason the Lakers’ offense held up at all is thanks to Goodrich’s efforts. But in this matchup the Knicks can put Frazier on him. With one of the best man-defenders of his time on Goodrich, can the Lakers’ offense keep it together?
3. The offense of the ‘71 Knicks was not particularly strong; Walt Frazier was the only strong scorer in that group. And in the playoffs their offense really, really struggled against the Bullets. They scored 15 ppg lower than their regular season average, Reed shot around -5% rTS in the playoffs and only Frazier scored well. Is there any reason to think that a Chamberlain-led defense (one that improved in the playoffs) couldn’t shut the Knicks down in a similar way?
I’m going to put this up for 48 hours, unless I need to keep it open for a tie-breaker.
Post with who you would pick to win this series, ideally with the number of games. And if you have any insight into these players or matchups beyond what is above please don't hesitate to post; the goal (as always) is for us all to walk away with more knowledge than we started with. Lord knows I don't know a ton about these teams