When the Atlanta Hawks came back to tie the series against the Indiana Pacers, the faces of everyone in the New York Knicks' organization must have lit up like Emperor Palpatine’s did when Luke and Darth Vader started fighting in Return of the Jedi.
As the Knicks are looking to close out their own series against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night, they want nothing more than the Hawks vs. Pacers series to be tough, grueling and most importantly, end in seven games.
Either way, based on the regular season and what we’ve seen in the playoffs so far, the Knicks won’t have any problems no matter who they face in the second round.
After four games in the 2013 NBA playoffs, the Knicks stands with the best defensive rating, not just among these three teams, but the entire playoff field. The Celtics have been completely shut down at certain points in this series; they scored less than 80 points in the first three games and needed overtime in Game 4 to get above 90.
The Knicks have four players, Raymond Felton, Carmelo Anthony, Jason Kidd and Iman Shumpert, among the top 10 in defensive win shares in the playoffs. Nobody on the Pacers or the Hawks is on the list, although Paul George is No. 4 in individual defensive ratings with 98.9. However, he doesn’t quite stack up to Felton and Melo, who occupy the top two spots with 91.8 and 93.8 respectively.
After Melo’s complete atrocity in Game 4, watching his highlights against the Hawks from the regular season is a healing experience. If Atlanta manages to advance to the second round, the Knicks will be happy to know that it’s a team that Anthony can destroy at will.
The Knicks swept Atlanta in the three-game regular season series, but Melo only played the first two. He scored 42 and 40 points on 53 and 63 percent shooting, respectively. In the first game, he even scored a total of nine three-pointers.
New York should be looking for a sweep if it ends up meeting Atlanta in the next round, as the two teams are on a completely different level.
Knicks coach Woodson says Amar’e Stoudemire ‘absolutely’ will play in the second round if he’s ready dlvr.it/3JDmyq— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) April 29, 2013
In the past few years, losing players has been part of the process when it comes to the postseason for the New York Knicks. Adding another star player to a team that is already looking like an Eastern Conference contender is a completely new situation, but that’s exactly what’s about to happen with Amar’e Stoudemire.
The forward is trying to come back for the second round of the playoffs, as he would add another dimension to the Knicks offense. Melo’s poor shooting at times in this series along with JR Smith’s antics show that the Knicks can do with another superstar who can take over the game.
On a related note, it would be nice if Tyson Chandler could start scoring again. He has 14 points in the series. That’s not his PPG average, that’s his total. If Chandler starts playing like himself again and Amar'e comes back, this team is going to go places.
It’s no surprise that the Pacers and the Hawks have won their respective home games in their series. The reality is that neither of them are particularly strong on the road. In fact, despite ending up with a No. 3 and No. 6 seed, they both sported a road record below .500.
Considering that New York will be getting home-court advantage, this is incredibly good news for the Knicks. Regardless of whom they'll be playing, they should find themselves up two games to start the series.
Simply arithmetic suggests that the Knicks win the series if they win their four home games, and considering that they are susceptible to win a game or two on the road, this quickly becomes an insurmountable task for their opponent.