5 Keys for Knicks to Dominate Indiana Pacers
Both teams have high expectations and want nothing less than a place in the conference finals, but Game 1 showed that the series could be a lot tougher than New York first thought.
New York still has the talent to beat Indiana—even after losing their home-court advantage—but the Knicks will need to change their approach if they're to move on to the next round.
Mike Woodson has his work cut out with the team down 1-0, and he has to find a way to light a fire under this team. If he can get them to follow these five steps, it will put New York in a position to turn the series around.
Indiana is one of the most physical teams in the NBA, and that was a huge part of why New York was undone in Game 1.
Carmelo Anthony had to go pound-to-pound with the likes of David West all day, and with the referees not calling fouls easily, it's not worth having him at the 4.
That's exactly why the Knicks have Kenyon Martin, though, and inserting him at power forward could be the difference New York needs on both ends of the floor.
Starting K-Mart would leave a gap on the bench for a back-up big, but Chris Copeland and Marcus Camby should be able to handle the role until Amar'e Stoudemire returns to action.
The Knicks have had a ton of success this season going small, but against the Pacers, it probably isn't the best idea.
Melo is already playing hurt, and it's only going to get worse as the series goes on. Unless the refs start calling the games differently, there's no advantage to having your best player get beat up on every play.
Feed off Raymond Felton
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Raymond Felton has been the heart and soul of the Knicks all season, and his performance so far in the playoffs has been fantastic.
The point guard is averaging 17.3 points and 5 assists in the postseason, and he is doing it on 49 percent shooting.
His ability to penetrate was the best thing the Knicks had going for them in Round 1, but it seems the rest of the team didn't notice.
Despite Felton's success, he rarely touched the ball down the stretch, with the team instead going the iso-Carmelo Anthony route.
For a team that's struggling to do anything on offense, it's not the best idea to keep the ball away from the hot hand, especially when that happens to be a player who can open things up for others as well.
New York needs to let Felton run the show as long as he's on the court. He can score, create for Tyson Chandler in the pick-and-roll and put Melo in a position where he might start shooting over 40 percent from the field again.
Get Roy Hibbert in Foul Trouble
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If Game 1 told us anything about how this series is going to play out, it's that Roy Hibbert is going to play a huge role.
Hibbert is one of the best defensive players the NBA has to offer, and we saw that in the way he defended the rim and the pick-and-roll on Sunday.
Thanks to his height and athleticism, Hibbert can hedge screens while not giving any advantage to the roller, which completely broke down what the Knicks were trying to do.
On top of that, he's one of the league's best at blocking and changing shots without fouling, which frustrated New York to no end.
Somehow, the Knicks need to find a way to get Hibbert off the floor, and the only thing they can do is continue to attack the basket.
The potential return of Amar'e Stoudemire will help a lot in that regard, but for now, New York will have to make do with what it has.
Keep J.R. Smith in Check
J.R. Smith has been a huge disappointment for the Knicks so far in the postseason, with his numbers going down in almost every category.
For a while late in the regular season, it looked like the erratic version of J.R. was a thing of the past, but clearly that's not the case.
To be fair to Smith, his shot selection hasn't been too poor, but there's no excuse for not attacking the basket when your field-goal percentage is so poor.
As long as Smith isn't jacking up ridiculous three-point attempts, the points will come eventually. Mike Woodson will just have to make sure the frustration doesn't boil over to the point where he completely reverts to his old ways.
Smith has only been shooting 4.3 free throws per game in the playoffs, but he shot 6.6 during his dominant stretch towards the end of the regular season. Clearly, that's something that needs to change for him to get back on track.
Hope for STAT to Return
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New York has been winning without Amar'e Stoudemire all season, but clearly they could use his physicality and offensive prowess against Indiana.
With both Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith shooting poorly, the Knicks desperately need another scoring option, and Stoudemire could be just that.
For 15-20 minutes per game, he's a player that can have success in the pick-and-roll with Raymond Felton, and get to the line against David West and Roy Hibbert.
Stoudemire played efficiently when he was healthy in the regular season, and if he can do the same here, it could get New York's offense back on track.
There's no guarantee that STAT will be himself when he returns—there'll probably be an adjustment period as he finds his legs—but the Knicks will just have to hope.
The one thing we do know is that Stoudemire always raises his play in the postseason, and he'll do the same here with health on his side.