Much has been made of the downward spiral of JR Smith in these playoffs. Fortunately for the Knicks, there has been a corresponding upward trend by Iman Shumpert. As the saying goes, “When one door closes, another door gets dunked on by Iman Shumpert.”
Let’s start with Smith. Much like the Knicks themselves, JR started the playoffs pretty strong. In the first three games against the Celtics, he was 7-19, 7-15 and 6-12 from the field. While 43% isn’t amazing, it’s actually better than the 42% JR shot during the regular season. Then came the elbow, the ejection, the suspension, the trash talk and finally, the slide. Since his suspension Smith has shot 3-14, 5-13, 4-15 and 3-15 for an abysmal 26%. Not surprisingly, New York went 3-0 with the hotter JR and has gone 2-3 since (including the suspension game).
Yet, there is cause for hope even if Smith can’t pull out of his funk immediately. That hope is the rising play of Iman Shumpert. In the first three games when the Knicks were bulldozing Boston, their top three scorers in each game were Smith, Raymond Felton and Carmelo Anthony and they took and made the bulk of the shots for New York. Shumpert’s role was as a defensive stopper who occasionally spotted up for a three. In those three games he went 1-2, 2-6 and 1-5 from the field. He also never played more than 22 minutes in any of those three games.
The thing that Felton, Smith and Anthony have in common is that they can create their own shot either from the perimeter or by attacking the basket off the dribble. Most of the rest of New York’s scoring comes from spot up shooting off the catch or the occasional alley-oop dunk by a big man. When Smith was suspended, New York found itself without a key component of their offense. Among other things, Coach Mike Woodson likes to keep three guards on the floor at all times and Smith had been giving him 30 minutes a game that now needed to be funneled elsewhere.
Since Shumpert’s offensive skillset most closely resembles Smith’s (of Woodson’s options), and he had been playing so few minutes, I suggested to Posting and Toasting’s Seth Rosenthal that Shumpert would see a major spike in playing time. Sure enough, Shumpert’s minutes doubled, as he went 44 minutes in game four against the Celtics. As required, he was much more aggressive on the offensive end, taking 13 shots instead of his usual four or five. Though he only made five of them and the Knicks lost, Woodson’s show of faith in Shumpert has reaped rewards as the playoffs have progressed. Even with the return of Smith, Shumpert has continued to see increased minutes: 29, 38, 33 and 29. This has been accompanied by greater aggression and greater success on the offensive end. Iman has shot 4-7, 6-9, 4-11 and 7-11 in those games. After taking just four shots a game in the first three clashes with Boston, Shumpert has averaged 10 shots a game since, while hitting on 51% of those shots.
Shumpert’s most recent effort would seem the most promising and will be one the Pacers need to account for as the series continues. In that game, Shumpert went 6-8 from two-point range. This was the first playoff game which Iman made more than three shots from inside the arc and hopefully this is a sign that Shumpert is finally becoming confident attacking the basket again after a very slow and gradual return from his ACL surgery. Though at least he was finding ways to help his team on the court during the time he was rebuilding his confidence after the doctors cleared him (mandatory jab at Derrick Rose of the hated/feared Bulls).
Given that it has taken Shumpert over 50 games to perform at this level after coming back from his injury, I hope New York fans have very low expectations should Amare Stoudemire return to the court this Saturday. As we saw from STAT earlier this season, even he doesn’t play like an all-star for the first several games after a long absence due to injury. Given the size of Indiana’s frontline and the Knicks inability to find a big man that can score when Melo is on the bench, even a 60% STAT might be pretty helpful at this point though.
Since New York just beat the Pacers by 26, while Smith was shooting 3-15 and STAT was in street clothes, I really like New York’s chances in this series. Charles Barkley and his predictions otherwise and statement that Indiana is just a better team be darned. We’ll see Chuck, we’ll see… If Shumpert stays aggressive and keeps giving the Knicks another solid option on the offensive side of the floor (to go with his incredible efforts on the defensive end), then I think Indiana is in quite a bit of trouble.
I had just texted my friend, “They’re better than us. Doesn’t mean we can’t win, but it’s true.”
I had come to the acceptance the Knicks were going to lose the series. New York was trailing 64-62 towards the end of the third quarter after George Hill drained a three. The Pacers were up by two after being down by seven, just about seven minutes earlier. Carmelo Anthony misses a three, David West grabs the rebound and Indiana heads up court.
A lead that felt like it should have been more at halftime completely disappeared and I had gone into full-blown panic mode. As all of this is happening…
First instinct – When did the Pacers hired Ben Howland?
Second instinct – I’m not really sure what the hell is going on here, but Frank Vogel is a really good coach and there has to be a reason for it.
New York was faltering, there didn’t seem like a logical reason to stop the flow of the game.
For an explanation from Vogel’s perspective, the only reasoning I could come up with was the Pacers’ two previous side out of bounds plays resulted in two dunks — a post up for Davis West, who hit a cutting Lance Stephenson for a dunk, plus a gorgeous lob to Paul George directly from the inbounds. Indiana’s head coach was confident in his ability to out scheme Mike Woodson after a timeout.
As weird as the timeout decision was, what surprised me even more was a four-five combination of David West and Jeff Pendergraph.
After the game, I went to see if the lineup of West, Pendergraph, Paul George, Lance Stephenson and George Hill had any track record. According to NBA.com, that group of five, in 26 minutes of regular season play, had 144 ORtg and a 80.7 DRtg. The small sample size off success didn’t carry over and off the Knicks went.
Carmelo Anthony immediately finished at the rim twice in a row and next thing I knew he was flinging shots left and right that were going through the orange circular object, instead of just being in the vicinity.
Other important developments occurred like the continued positive play of Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert making an impact I couldn’t even dream of him having, Kenyon Martin finishing with his left hand, consistently kind of becoming a thing, and J.R. Smith showing some strides towards being a basketball player again, but none were more important than Melo.
The Knicks’ LeBron James unanimous MVP stealing star made an appearance in the playoffs for the longest stretch yet.
Will Anthony go back to his brick shooting ways or was this the beginning of a binge scoring streak is a question we do not yet know the answer to.
Much like the J.R. Smith elbow “changing” the Boston series, if Melo gets hot this Vogel timeout will be remembered as a momentum altering decision.
I don’t believe that is fair, just like I didn’t believe the Jason Terry incident told the story of what happened verses the Celtics.
I do believe those two Melo buckets against Indiana jump started his Game Two and was a big reason New York evened up the series at one. Momentum can only go so far and from one game to the next is not something I believe in.
Vogel miscalculated either trusting the small sample size of numbers from the regular season or his instinct of playing the group was wrong. It jump-started the Knicks to one win and nothing more.
Boy how quickly things can turn in the playoffs. It took an overall combined effort for about three quarters for the Knicks to cap off the Pacers, until the floodgates opened in the fourth quarter for New York. This was a true game of runs, ending with a 36-4 run by the Knicks to end the game and take the win 105-79. This is now essentially a five game series now that things are once again even at one game apiece, and the Knicks’ home court advantage down the drain. So, as it’s been all post season, New York is taking the post-season one game at a time, deservingly owning the Pacers tonight and being rewarded with three days off to recoup a battered and tattered front line. There were many positives shown tonight the Knicks should build off going forward.
Where we stand as of now is pretty certain, small ball works. However, it flourishes only when the Pacers play at the Knicks pace and Indiana is not able to get Roy Hibbert and David West settled on the block. The tandem was held to a combined 19 points, ultimately the difference between game one and two. Paul George was the only consistent threat for Indiana on the night, scoring 20 points. Fortunately, the Knicks had an answer every time the Pacers took an inch, even going up by one late in the third before the Knicks unleashed for 33 fourth quarter points. This one was seemingly over, and everyone knew it, when Carmelo Anthony regained his touch.
In the first half, Anthony looked to be heading for another dismal shooting night going 4-11 in the first half. After halftime, Melo uplifted his performance and finished out the game 9-15 including 11 fourth quarter points, and leaving Anthony with his highest shooting percentage this post season at 50%. He finished the game with 32 points, the game-high scorer.
The Knicks and Pacers will now have three days to rest before the series shifts to Indiana. This will be good for the Knicks who are beat up and could use a day or two. Unlike a young team in Indiana, who would rather prefer to continue playing every other day and maintaining their rhythm. Anthony now has time to rest his shoulder, and Tyson Chandler can take some precautionary rest for his neck. If the Knicks team that showed up tonight can be the same team that comes into Indiana, the Pacers will have their hands full the rest of the series.
Rightfully so, the criticism of the Pacers’ offense is distinctly obvious. Their lack of a go-to guy is what causes them to spatter on offense, as they did against Atlanta in the first round. Paul George is not quite there yet, and unless Hibbert is constantly involved, he is not a reliable threat under the basket.
Nightly notable: Carmelo Anthony finally broke out of his slump with his 32 points. His performance really uplifted the spirit of the team as they rallied behind his heroics in the fourth. We are unsure as this point how serious of a problem his shoulder really is, but it didn’t look to affect Anthony when the game was on the line. Hopefully this long rest will do him, and the rest of the team well.
The X-Factor: Pablo Prigioni, in 20 minutes, finished with 10 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Prigs replaced Felton late in the third quarter and was the catalyst of the Knicks massive run, causing turnovers, hitting shots, and moving the ball.
Standout Stat: The Knicks won the rebounding margin for the first time in the series 37-35. Indiana also committed 21 turnovers to New York’s seven. This was all crucial in opening up the transition game for the Knicks.
Play of the night: Iman Shumpert had a monster, one-handed putback slam in the second quarter. Probably the most impressive slam by Shump all year.
What do we take away from this game? The Knicks maintained their defensive intensity for 48 minutes and had 11 steals. But they are still lacking a post presence. Amar’e Stoudemire hopes to change that on Saturday. STAT is slabbed to suit up for game three and with any luck, vitalize the offensive post for the Knicks with anywhere from 10-15 minutes off the bench. This will also help New York to manage Indiana’s depth in the front court. The more bodies they have to wrestle down low, the better off they will be trying to detain the Pacer bigs.
Lastly, I just have to rave about Iman Shumpert very quickly. He has gotten better with each passing game on both ends of the floor. His intensity on defense has been unmatched so far in the playoffs, and his offensive ability to slash and hit open threes is quietly becoming a consistent threat. Games like this are games that make me wonder how high this Knicks’ team’s ceiling really is.
You could say I have roots to a bunch of NBA teams. When growing up, my father was (still is) a Lakers fan from the Magic Johnson days. So, naturally, father like son, I became a Lakers fan. Quickly, Shaq became my favorite player in the entire league. No one could match him. I remember rocking my gold Shaq jersey around my elementary school. The next season though, Shaq was traded to the Miami Heat because of an ongoing battle with his ex-teammate, Kobe Bryant. I cut ties with the Lakers that day and became a Miami Heat fan. If you’re into looking for symbolism and that stuff I guess it could symbolize my sports independence with my father. I became an avid fan of the Heat and slowly Dwyane Wade made his mark on me against the Pistons en route to becoming my favorite player. The Heat would lose in the conference finals to the Pistons in 2005, but came back and won the NBA Finals in 2006. I was ecstatic, but as the years went on my love for the Heat dried up. I began watching great players while Dwyane Wade recovered from injury after injury. Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, etc. were all fun players to watch. My liking for an individual team decreased, but my love for the game grew. There were multiple teams that were capable of winning growing up. Not too long ago the Orlando Magic made the NBA Finals when it was either the Cavs or Celtics being picked to represent the East. That’s parity.
I now root on the hometown Knicks, but still enjoy the play of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, despite them being on the popularly disliked Heat. I don’t share that opinion, but that’s for another post.
But back to my original point that’s shared in the title of this post. Miami losing is good for the NBA. Yes, if the Heat win, the image of the game’s best player has grown even larger. But, I can tell you right now, there’s only one team that I believe can win the NBA title this year with the injury to Westbrook (Even if Westbrook is 100% the Heat might be the only contender in the league). That’s the Heat.
We can make believe the Knicks and Pacers have a shot, but do you honestly see these teams winning four straight games? I don’t and it sounds terrible, but the league lacks parity. The Heat have the Thunder’s number and the Spurs were unable to beat the LeWadeless Heat (The Heat beat San Antonio without LeBron and Wade). t That leaves what teams to beat them?
Well, last night showed us a glimmer of hope. The Bulls probably aren’t going to be able to beat the Heat three more times. Miami probably was just rusty from their long rest after sweeping the Bucks in the first round.
I’m not saying teams have no chance to beat the Heat, but the chances of defeating them four times in a series is slim. Sure, the Mavericks did it, but they needed Miami to choke a 15 point lead away in order to do so. The league needs to somehow stop players from joining one team because right now the league isn’t fair.
Maybe it’s LeBron being LeBron and owning the league like Jordan did in the 90′s. Maybe it’s his much improved supporting cast rather than in his Cleveland days. Or maybe it’s a mixture of both. I don’t know. I just believe Miami losing is good for the NBA and will get fans from around the country to get into the game we love again.
The New York Knicks were handled by the Indians Pacers by a score of 102-95 in Game One of their Eastern Conference semifinals series. The final score doesn’t tell the true story of the game, as the Pacers worked the Knicks over. They were better on both ends of the court working seamlessly as an offensive and defensive unit.
A lot is being made of rebounding differential in the opening game, which was decidedly in the Pacers favor. The Knicks can improve a little bit in this category, but I believe New York will need to win games finding a way around this rather than by improving it significantly. During the Knicks’ two regular season wins against the Pacers, NY rebounded 72.2% of the Pacers misses. In Game One, the number wasn’t much lower, the Knicks grabbed 68.6 of the Pacers misses.
The question is how does New York get around this? They accomplished this partially despite losing, since the Knicks still attempted five mores shots than the Pacers. New York only turned the ball over 10 times compared to 16 from Indiana. This helps cancel out the rebounding differential.
It also seems like there is being too much criticism being hurled towards the offense. The Knicks offense in Game One really wasn’t bad — New York ORtg was 99, the Pacers DRtg during the regular season was 96. They were able to score three more points across 100 possessions than Indiana allowed across 82 games and that was with dismal shooting from Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith. The defensive side of the ball, where the Knicks’ DRtg was 110, was the real issue. Problems that have existed for New York all season continued to show – double teaming when not necessary, bad pick and roll defense and letting opposing role players get too comfortable. After an excellent defensive performance against the Celtics the hope was these issues were fixed. So far one game against the Pacers say it was more about Boston’s bad offense than the Knicks good defense. This does have the potential to change and must if NY has any chance to pull this out.
Individually, once again Carmelo Anthony is catching criticism for his offensive performance. Anthony scored 27 points, but shot 10-of-28 from the field. Melo actually shot very well from mid-range, as, by my count, he was 6-12. Looking at his shot chart throughout the postseason this is also where he has had the most success.
This is a pattern that has developed through the seven games the Knicks have played in the playoffs. Melo is finishing at a depressingly bad rate in the restricted area and this continued in the loss to the Pacers. The balance of trying to attack the rim with the idea of getting Roy Hibbert into foul trouble verses shooting from the areas he’s been performing well from is something Anthony and Woodson need to discuss. A lot of this decision-making could be based on a game-to-game basis with how the refs are calling the game. If on Anthony’s first few attacks at the rim the refs are calling fouls when there is contact, even if Hibbert is staying vertically straight up, then continue assaults towards the hoop. If the refs are allowing Hibbert more leeway Woodson needs to find ways to get Anthony good looks in other spots.
Considering how poorly they played that the Knicks only lost by seven does seem to be a hopeful sign. There are things New York can obviously improve upon and they better do it quick. If they fall behind 0-2 heading to Indiana the series is essentially over.
The New York Knicks have advanced to the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals for the first time since 1999-2000 with their 4-2 series win over the Boston Celtics.
To fully grasp what life has been like as Knicks fan during the dreadful 12 years between Eastern Conference semifinals appearances, here are the team’s “best” moments over that time span in video form.
Let’s jump to 2003 when Latrell Sprewell did this thing when he made all of the three point shots against the Clippers.
The same season Allan Houston dropped 53 points in LA against the Lakers outdueling Kobe Bryant
New York traded for Stephon Marbury. I was in my teens at the time and didn’t fully grasp stuff like the salary cap. I thought it was a good day. Listening to this fifty-second clip of Isiah Thomas speaking now makes me want to punch my computer screen.
No video for this one, but the Knicks did make the playoffs in the 2003-2004 season. They were swept by a Nets team that was actually good – we’re going to gloss over that fact and all that matters is this Tim Thomas quote on Kenyon Martin:
“He’s a fugazy as far as the whole tough guy role. You get techs and you get fines and that makes you tough? Because your game is wild and crazy, that makes you tough? When a scuffle breaks out, you have 13 guys that can protect you. When it’s you and someone else, what happens then? Somebody call Don King and hook it up for us.”
Credit to ESPN.com for the quote and K-Mart love you now, at the time this was the one part of that series I got to enjoy.
In 2004-2005 Knicks fan got excited about Jackie Butler!!!! This really happened. This is the only video evidence that exists.
The New York Knicks 2005-2006 Summer League team was probably the best Knicks team during this era – Channing Frye, David Lee, Nate Robinson, Trevor Ariza, Jackie Butler and Bruno Sundov. The Knicks were finally going places. This video is from a year late, can’t be picky.
The Larry Brown year, nothing good happened right? WRONG. A fantastic six game winning streak including wins over the Suns triple overtime and Mavericks in OT highlighted an otherwise dismal season. Remember the good times people.
The Eddy Curry season. In 2006-07 Eddy Curry scored between 20 and 49 points in over half of the 81 games he played. This is not a joke or a lie. There was actually a debate on whether he should make the All Star team over Dwight Howard. The Curry era was highlighted by this:
Jamal Crawford scores 52 points and makes 16 straight shots against the Miami Heat.
Eight seed bitch!!!!!
The highlight of the Mike D’Antoni era, if you stuck with the Knicks through the bad times you will know exactly what game this is from. I’m just going to leave the box score right here.
After being bench for the previous 14 games Nate Robinson was put back in the rotation and dropped 41 points on the Hawks in an overtime win.
Going to finish it off with one the sneaky fun games from this era. I always loved watching Tracy McGrady. When the Knicks traded for him I knew it was more about the salary cap then the player, but he gave us a really fun flashback in his first game at MSG.
This brings us to the Amar’e Stoudemire signing and when things legitimately started to turn around. These moments are close enough in the memory bank that I won’t waste time going through them here.
Would love feedback on your favorite moments during this stretch and anything you think I missed.
Before the playoffs began, some of us at The Knicks Wall participated in a round table discussion about the keys to a deep Knicks playoff run. Despite the obvious importance of health and the reliability of Melo, I couldn’t help but identify “composure,” as the vital factor for success. Looking back on the season, each tough loss can be associated with eruptive emotions. When the 6-0 Knicks rolled into Memphis in early November, they suffered their first loss of the season in a game riddled with technical and flagrant fouls. When the Knicks lost their cool against Chicago in a midseason matchup at the Garden, fans left dejected while players were ejected.
If emotions could obstruct victory during a meaningless game in November, there was no telling what could happen in a Honey-Nut Cheerio infused playoff battle against hated rival Boston. Thus, the motto must be: Keep Calm and Move on.
In the first three games of the series, the Knicks barely worked a sweat. The famed Celtics Pride fell short as did nearly all of Paul Pierce’s jumpers.
Then an elbow.
Then a loss.
Then another loss.
The Orange and Blue were unraveling right before our eyes (figuratively speaking, as many of us couldn’t bear to watch).
At around 4:00 on Friday, the dread of the looming Game 6 and the potential for (an inevitable) Game 7 was unbearable. By tipoff, I thought I was going to pass out.
But, as the game progressed, the lead forever in our favor, I allowed myself to exhale. A 10 point lead grew to 15. When Iman Shumpert came down with that “yeaaaa, I just did that” look on his face to balloon the margin to 26, I even dared to consider our upcoming bout with Pacers.
Then a three
Then a steal.
Then a dunk.
Oh. My. God.
Our 26 point lead evaporated in mere minutes. My hair? Gone. My heart? Exploding. My Breath? Hyperventilating. I spent the entire Celtics comeback envisioning how I would go about avoiding future documentaries about the epic collapse WITHIN the epic collapse. Not only were the Knicks going to blow this lead, they were going to blow the series. Even as a Jets fan and a Mets fan, I was nowhere nearly prepared to handle this level of losing. Cursing the basketball gods and Jason Terry, I wallowed in sorrow. In a moment of chaos, I even directed angry barbs at our good friend Mike Breen who I felt betrayed us with the gleeful voice he used to describe the Celtics 19-0 run.
And yet, while I was doing a laughable job keeping my composure, the Knicks were chillin’. When a pair of Jeff Green free throws cut the lead to four, Raymond Felton shot a “McKayla Maroney glance” at the Boston bench. Not Impressed. Missed 19 straight 3’s? I’ll hit the 20th, said an unfazed Melo. You guys scoring at will right now? Cool story bro * Swat!* A steal from Iman Swaggert stopped the bleeding, an And One from JR sealed it with a bandage.
The Knicks could have folded. Should have folded. But with stoicism of a Mike Woodson Death stare, the Knicks held their ground; mentally and physically.
It is no coincidence that of all Phil Jackson’s coaching abilities he is best known for his Zen-like approach. Keep Calm and Move On In the Playoffs. That’s how it works. If the Knickerbockers can weather a few more storms, they’ll have a real shot at the Golden Ball come June.
Man, things are really starting to heat up…
With the Celtics now in the rearview mirror, it’s safe to say, that was more excitement and anxiety than I was expecting out of the Knicks’ first round matchup with Boston. But the green demons that haunt all Knick fans have finally been ousted and placed on the shelf, as we can. For the first time in 13 years, look ahead to the second round, beginning Sunday afternoon at 3:30 est. at Madison Square Garden. Awaiting the Knicks is another old foe, the Indiana Pacers. A team whom New York broke even with at 2 games a piece in the regular season, and this is going to be a VERY interesting series. Knicks’ fans who weren’t too fond of seeing the seasoned rival Celtics that have beaten up on the Knicks the past five years, and notorious villain Paul Pierce for six games, will not feel any friendlier toward Indiana and their relentless style of play, getting under an opponents skin, and long past with New York.
It’s actually been a decade now since the Knicks and Pacers started gaining some momentum in what turned out to be one of the most prevalent enemies of the ‘90s, starting with the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals. Reggie Miller was a Knicks assassin the next seven years. Though only getting past New York one time in 2000, Reggie had created innumerable moments that sealed the Pacers as a legitimate nemesis.
Ok, so if that didn’t get your blood boiling, check your pulse and read on. It’s 10 years later, but we can expect an equally physical matchup up between these two teams. Critics have ping ponged all year between who’s the favorite between the Knicks and Indy. Of course, the Knicks sub-.500 stretch of basketball during their 20-21 stretch lost among the middle of the season factors in, while the Pacers looked as if they were going to settle into number two and maybe even catch Miami. Until the Heat went nuts on their winning streak. Finally, New York was the last team to make their own run in March/April and silenced all the doubters who had orange and blue dead in the water. While Indiana percolated a little with New York, the Knicks winning ways continued as the Pacers dropped a few games, ultimately rewarding the Knicks with the number two seed, and home court advantage starting Sunday.
Home crowds will factor into the series tremendously. There is a blatant animosity on both ends of this relationship, from fans to players. JR Smith and Lance Stephenson will quickly escalate into something interesting; While Carmelo Anthony and Paul George look to lead their ball clubs to the Eastern Conference Finals. As I look at the matchups in this series, the Knicks’ ability to go big or small at their leisure will be an issue for the Pacers.
The Pacers are a slow paced team, matching the ideal playoff-tempo, and New York likes to push, when possible, but still take their fair share of threes, mostly off missed rotations due to catching a defense offset in transition. However, the Indiana-New York regular season sort of put up opposite numbers from how each team prefers to play. The Knicks were outscored 59-29 in fast break points during the regular season, including one game with zero. Roy Hibbert credits this to submitting to New York’s style of play.
“ We haven’t played the best against New York. We play a different style of play, for some reason, when we’re home against New York.”
The Knicks may have to adjust their play in order to defeat Indiana four times. The Pacers are another team who is tough on the perimeter and will bully you all night. I know people are already murmuring Indiana is going to stomp us inside, but Indiana has actually allowed teams to shoot 52% this year from five feet or closer. It’s more on the offensive end where they are 56% on average. This series is definitely open the door for Marcus Camby and Amar’e Stoudemire. It is going to be very difficult to keep Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin out of foul trouble against a plethora of tough interior defenders. Tyler Hansbrough even goes by the nickname of Crazy T. Well; we’ll see how crazy he is when he has to matchup with crazy K.
Joking aside, Camby had a few warm up minutes against the Celts, I feel this series is the reason Marcus was coveted as a big pick up for New York this last offseason. He should be a perfect compliment when Tyson has to come out. As for Stoudemire…
Let’s hope that doesn’t continue to be an issue when he returns. His post scoring, though, will be a boost. Mike Woodson is now pointing at game three to be Amar’e’s return date. And if Novak is still out for a game or two, the question remains if Chris Copeland will see the floor anytime soon.
Chris Copeland dropped 20 points in the final meeting of the regular season against Indiana during his April Rookie of the Month campaign, helping the Knicks clinch the two seed. Copeland presents issues for Indiana with a bigger lineup. His quick, basic first step breaks down the Pacers, while his three point shooting spaces the floor.
The emergence of Iman Shumpert against the Celtics was a sight for sore eyes. Shump’s defense dictated bits and pieces of the series, and that’s what the Knicks need to keep this push going. Shumpert will have his hands full with Paul George, but has a chance to change this whole series if he can keep George’s activity level low. Iman averaged 1.8 steals against the Celtics, but showed a significant difference in activity from game three and on.
Carmelo Anthony will be number one on the Pacers hit list. He will be matched up with David West in what is sure to be a physical matchup. Anthony will need to exploit this by running more pick and rolls with Felton. West won’t be comfortable on the perimeter with Anthony, just as Melo will not have fun banging with West on the other end of the ball. But Anthony should be able to roll with the punches as long as his temper stays under control. Anthony is coming into this series second in the playoffs in scoring with 29 points per game.
The Pacers showed at times against Atlanta that they get caught in dry spells when George and Hibbert are taken out of the game. Something the Knicks should look to exploit by trying to go up early in games. This will not be a high scoring series, nor will it be a pretty one. The Knicks are going to have to fight tooth and nail to earn a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. I don’t know how many games this series goes, but I am confident the Knicks take it. They overcame Boston and learned a great deal about what it takes to win, so they should be all braun and business. 12 more wins Knicks fans.
I couldn’t write anything last night; I had to take it all in.
The New York Knicks have won a playoff series… and they defeated Boston, our most loathed opponents. Things couldn’t be much better (let’s not think about how the Knicks almost blew a 25+ point lead nor how poorly they played in games four and five).
However, I did make a bunch of graphics you can bask in:
With their backs against the wall tonight in Boston, the Knicks, essentially, have no one to blame but themselves for the pressure that is now on them to win game six. This is going to be the third try to close out Boston, a team running off emotion, heart, and fuel added to the fire by none other than a Knicks team with disappointing comments and actions coming from a team who hasn’t advanced out of the first round in 13 years. Knicks fans have began pointing fingers anxiously in search of the reason why they cannot overcome one more win and the mental aspect of beating the Celtics. The Knicks should win tonight. The pressure is on Carmelo Anthony to deliver. But Boston is not ready to turnover and call it quits. There are a few things the Knicks can do to produce a positive outcome and avoid playing a game seven on Sunday, and there are also some things they must avoid.
Where else is there to start than with the man most of the pressure falls on? Carmelo Anthony has taken a nosedive in production the last two games, and ultimately stagnated the team’s efficiency and production with a lack of ball movement, and too much isolation. Anthony has only six assists in the 208 minutes he has played this series, and 137 attempted shots. We DON’T need any more isolation. Anthony can’t single handedly beat the Celts, but he can leave a significant mark on this game in other aspects besides scoring. Melo, you will get the ball back, your teammates know you are the first option and won’t look to force anything they don’t have. Something the Knicks also DO need is more quick cuts and flashes from Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert on the weak side of the ball looking for layups. Worst case scenario for this, Anthony draws his cutting teammate’s defender and can effectively pass out of a double team, although Anthony’s lack of production has led to less double teaming, which is hurting the rest of the team.
I think it’s safe to say Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert have been two of the best players in the later half of this series. Felton has completely exposed the Celtic’s biggest hole at the guard position, and taken advantage of the opportunity. I believe that the Knicks DO need to run their offense through Felton tonight, and not Anthony. Felton’s 21 points in game six all came from inside the arc. He has also orchestrated some beautiful pick and rolls with Tyson Chandler, which is where the Celtics have a hard time defending the Knicks. The pick and roll is the only way to soften the tight grip of Boston’s perimeter defense on the Knicks, because the defense has no choice but to collapse when there is the threat of a lob to Chandler, or Felton taking it himself. This is when Felton also finds Shumpert in the corner, where Iman has to knock down open threes. We will give Shump a pass, though, for his superior defense in game five. That was probably Shumpert’s most impressive defensive game all year, and we really see his athleticism, at least on defense, back at almost full force, which is a huge boost for the Knicks who will need to take players like Jason Terry out of the game tonight, and win the sixth man battle.
The Knicks’ sixth man will need to show up tonight if they want any chance of ending this series. JR Smith did not hit a shot until the fourth quarter in game six, and was 0-10 at one point. After all the comments made about Jason Terry, we all would of thought Smith was going to come out of the gates blazing, but he just seemed a little too excited and trigger happy. Smith has to get back to the way he was playing in game’s one and two, taking it to the basket and not settling. Credit some of this to Boston’s defense, but ball movement can easily beat their rotations and break down their defense, which JR has been such a catalyst of.
Stay intense of the defense, MOVE THE BALL, and please, stop trash talking. The Celtics have been here before. This Knicks’ team collectively has no playoff resumé and does not yet hold the right to talk until they win a round. I think the whole funereal thing really taught this team a lesson, and put them back in their place. Tonight is going to be a huge test of character, and pride. Will the Knicks lay another egg in Boston and have to play probably the most microscopic game of their season in a do-or-die game seven? Or finish this tonight, and play the way we saw them play all of March and April, like they aren’t scared of anything. Depends on which team shows up. Just finish this tonight, Knicks. We will be rooting for you.
After Wednesday night, it’s easy to view this series as the basketball incarnation of the Red Sox/Yankees playoff series in 2004, where Boston famously overcame New York’s 3-0 lead to win 4-3 on their way to the World Series. Yet, it’s really quite different, in spite of the teams being from the same cities. The differences come from the core differences in the two games. In the series in 2004, winning game five was a crucial turning point for the Sox, because they had Pedro Martinez waiting to pitch game six and Curt Schilling ready to take the mound in game seven. As a result, the Yankees were going to be facing an even better team in games six and seven than they did in game five. The other big difference is that regular season results are much more meaningful in the NBA than they are in baseball.
In game six, the Knicks will be facing the exact same team they faced in the first five games, the Celtics talent isn’t going to be getting any better. In the first four games of this series, and most of the regular season, we had every reason to believe the Knicks were the far superior team. After taking game one by seven and game two by 16, we waited breathlessly to see if things would change in Boston. Yet, New York dominated game three even more thoroughly, though “just” winning by 14.
The momentum changer has been the ejection and subsequent suspension of JR Smith. Things were rolling for New York in game three when he was ejected and they might have won by more than 14 had he stayed in the game. Game four was a golden opportunity for Boston to finally win a game: Smith was out with a suspension, the Celtics were in “win or go home” mode, the Knicks were in “we’re up 3-0 and we’ve got this” mode, plus the game was in Boston. Despite these things and an epically bad 10-35 shooting night from Carmelo Anthony (it’s not merely that he shot 29%, it’s that he took 35 shots on a night that he was shooting 29%!), the Celtics still needed overtime to pull out their first win.
So, after four games, there still seemed little doubt about the outcome. The Knicks had won three games convincingly and the Celtics had managed to steal one game where the sun, the moon and the stars had aligned just right. So how did game five suddenly introduce us to the coming of the Apocalypse?
Unlike game four, this was a game the Knicks were supposed to win: the Knicks would learn from their mistakes in game four, Smith was back in the fold and they were back in the beloved basketball bastion of Madison Square Garden where the Knicks had seemed invincible all season.
The problem was the Knicks knew they were supposed to win. One only needs to look at their pregame trash talk and sartorial antics to see how clear it was to them that this game was theirs for the taking. The Knicks’ incredible hubris was rewarded with a 92-86 loss that wasn’t as close as the score might suggest.
Yet, to suggest that the cost of the Knicks’ hubris will extend to game six and possibly even a game seven is absurd. The reasons that the Knicks won the first three games so convincingly haven’t changed. There were psychological and strategic reasons why New York lost games four and five that just no longer apply. There is no Pedro or Schilling waiting in the wings to bail out the Celtics’ anemic offense. There is a reason why the teams that dominate the NBA regular season typically dominate the playoffs and it applies here. Baseball is all about streaks. If your bats are hot or your pitching is in a funk come October, you can throw out the regular season results in baseball. In the NBA, the coaching, talent and schemes that determined your success in the regular season typically are what will determine the outcome in the postseason.
I cannot imagine that this Knicks team is approaching game six with anywhere near the measure of the overconfidence that they were clearly suffering from in game five. I also can’t imagine we’ll see another game where both teams take 22 three-pointers, yet Boston makes an incredible 11 of them and New York make a mere five of them. The key to games one and two of the series were the defensive adjustments made by Coach Woodson at halftime of those games. After two straight games of miserable offense from one of the NBA’s elite offensive teams, I expect to see Woodson make meaningful adjustments to the New York offense which will be enough to end this series in game six.
Of course, if I’m wrong, this is going to be a long offseason…