After watching the New York Knicks squander their opportunity to take a 1-0 lead in the series against the Indiana Pacers, one has to wonder if they were suffering from a post-Game 6 hangover after getting past the Boston Celtics.
Knocking the Celtics out of the playoffs was a huge relief for the Knickerbockers, and it wouldn’t be surprising if their feet hadn't yet reached the ground by the time the Pacers suited up at the Garden.
There is a reason why home-court advantage is revered in the NBA despite the shocking upsets we’ve seen so far in the playoffs. If you take care of business at home, any wins on the road simply expedites the process.
The Knicks knew going into the Eastern Conference semifinals that as long as they could win every home game against a team that went below .500 on the road in the postseason, they would get a chance to compete for a spot in the NBA Finals.
They don’t have that luxury anymore.
The Knicks need to step it up, and here’s how they can do it.
Will Carmelo Anthony average 45% FG for the rest of this series?
Points per game is probably the most misleading statistic there is. Through seven playoff games, Carmelo Anthony is averaging the second most points per game (28.9) behind only Kevin Durant (32.9 PPG).
Yet, everyone who has watched Melo play this postseason knows that he needs to improve drastically. He is shooting just 37.8 percent from the field and 26.3 percent from behind the arc.
That’s a long way from the player who ended the regular season with a series of 40-plus point games.
If a hungry fanbase and the hunt for a championship isn’t enough, then Melo should at least make an effort to improve for Gary Washburn’s sake.
Washburn was the only voter who deemed Anthony more worthy of his Most Valuable Player vote than Lebron James, and right now, Melo is making him look like a fool. Nobody in their right mind would pick this edition of Carmelo Anthony over LeBron James.
Please get your shooting percentage above 45 percent again, Melo. Gary Washburn’s honor depends on it.
Thank goodness Chris Copeland played eight minutes in Game 1 against the Indiana Pacers because I was just about to file a missing person’s report. He had not been seen since Game 3 against the Celtics.
In all seriousness, Copeland was absolutely horrible in the first-round series against Boston. Now is his time to make up for it.
That’s exactly the kind of production the Knicks need right now.
Raymond Felton has been the guiding light for the New York Knicks this postseason. If Melo and JR Smith are going to continue to waste their opportunities, then the Knicks can’t be afraid to rely on Felton.
He’s shooting 46.9 percent from the field, which is better than the Knicks’ two most prolific scorers. Additionally, the Knicks offense tends to get stale when it puts the ball in Melo’s hands and he isn’t producing. The worst example of that was the 19-0 stretch against the Celtics in Game 6.
Felton might not be the biggest name on the team, but he can run this offense. Let him lead the charge. As long as Melo can’t hit a barn door and Felton hits half-court shots, the Knicks don’t have a choice.
Whenever Amar’e Stoudemire’s name comes up, people are quick to mention that his presence will negatively impact the team’s chemistry.
Game 1 against the Pacers was actually the first time the Knicks have scored more than 90 points in this year’s playoffs.
And if there is one thing New York is sorely missing, it’s an inside scorer. Kenyon Martin and Tyson Chandler have been solid on the defensive end, but none of them have been able to provide much production on offense.
Amar’e is going to change that. He can easily average 20 points per game, however, I think a limited role with anywhere between 20 and 25 minutes suits him best. The last thing the Knicks need is for Stoudemire to spend the entire offseason recovering from another surgery.
If the Knicks end up losing the series to the Pacers, they have nobody but themselves to blame. Everyone who has seen the Knicks play this year knows that they are much better than what they showed in Game 1.
The players and personnel they need to make it to the Eastern Conference finals are all there, it’s just a matter of whether they will show up.