The Knicks lost to the Pacers 106-99 and their season is over as the Pacers are headed to the East Conference Finals.
There is so much to talk about with this game, especially considering it is the last game of the season. Not really sure where to start here. The Knicks pretty much played the horrible defense the entire game against a bad offensive team, no more epitomized by Lance Stephenson’s 25 points. I don’t recall him making a single outside shot; pretty much every point were on wide open layups where the Knicks were completely unaware or just not guarding him. The Pacers got to the line a lot. I thought the Pacers were shooting like 50% from the line because of how many free throws they missed but it turned out they took 44 free throws. There was some bad calls tonight that certainly shouldn’t be made in a game of this magnitude, but the Knicks are a three point shooting team playing a physical team and shouldn’t expect to get most of the calls on the road.
The Knicks made this game interesting in the third quarter with great shooting by Iman Shumpert (16 in the 3rd) and Carmelo Anthony (15 in the quarter). After not falling for the whole playoffs, the threes finally went down. Maybe it had something to do with more Prigioni and Copeland (more on that later). Melo was sensational offensively through three quarters with 35 points. I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t sure the Knicks were going to win when Chris Copeland hit a three to give the Knicks a three point lead. Suddenly, unfortunately, the Pacers beared down and the Knicks stopped running an offense. Shump sat way too long in the 4th and Woodson let Melo handle the ball way too much and it resulted in turnovers and missed shots. The turning point in my opinion was the Roy Hibbert block on Melo which was great. I can’t say enough about Hibbert in this game. Absolutely dominant in the post and on the boards. He made Tyson Chandler look like a d-league player.
I can’t even begin to explain what happened to Tyson Chandler. He completely disappeared in the playoffs and got physically abused throughout. After all the big men the Knicks had at the start of the year, the only one that was healthy and playing decently well in the end was Kenyon Martin who wasn’t even on the team until the deadline. I kept trying to dismiss Chandler’s performance as him being injured but damn was that bad. I honestly wonder if Chandler will be moved this offseason. Not because I’m a prisoner of the moment, but because he is the only real asset the Knicks have.
I really can’t decide whether Chandler was more disappointing than JR Smith though. That may have been the worst contract push in the history of the NBA. Just when everyone decided he was going to get paid, JR just throws up terrible game after terrible game. He didn’t discriminate: he hit good shots and bad, let taller players score over him and quicker players score on cuts, and was equally passive on loose balls and the boards. At this time last year I said the Knicks could never retain JR and there was no way I wanted him back. I honestly have no idea now what JR will get on the open market. I doubt know how a team could trust him enough to pay him big money, but hey Andris Biedrins makes like 9 million a year so you never know in this league.
JR Smith’s play wouldn’t have been so crippling if Mike Woodson wasn’t so dead set on playing him 35 minutes. What does he have to do for Woodson to take him out? Mike Woodson’s rotations were just horrible the entire series and it was no different tonight. Jason Kidd honestly should not have played the last 3 games. He is done and the only reason he will come back next year is to cash a check. Amar’e Stoudemire honestly should not have come back either. I am a Stoudemire supporter and think he can be a helpful piece, but now is not the time to experiment with rotations. Woodson should have played the players that earned minutes in April the minutes they deserved and this series could have been different. The three pointers fell significantly more with Chris Copeland and Pablo Prigioni on the floor. Woodson will get another chance next year and rightly so, but he has been an awful playoff coach in his Knicks tenure.
That’s all I got. It will certainly be a long and interesting offseason, because it’s the Knicks and things always get interesting. I have my concerns about whether the Knicks can top this season, but all things considered they met their expectations. They didn’t exactly “win now” but they accomplished some great things. See you’ll in July.