Despite Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, for the most part, struggling mightily in this postseason, the Knicks are still in a good position to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. Raymond Felton has been as good as Smith and Anthony have been bad, and Pablo Prigioni has excited the crowd with hot shooting performances.
Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin have been quiet statistically, but have made some of the most memorable plays of the postseason for the Knicks. The same goes for Smith, whose athleticism can occasionally outshine his poor shooting performances.
Several of the plays that made the top five are statements, whether the message was intentional or not. In Iman Shumpert’s case, it was his intention to make a statement, but other plays on the list just came from the team's momentum and helped the Knicks spark huge runs like the 30-2 spurt they hit the Pacers with in Game 2.
While the team could squeak by with Martin and Chandler playing minimal minutes against Boston, the team needs all of the height it can get against Indiana’s frontcourt. However, when New York can dictate the flow and tempo of the game, they are nearly unbeatable.
"They became the best team in the NBA playing their style of play," Frank Vogel said of the Knicks. "So you have to give credit to Coach Woodson for finding the formula that works for them. It'll be contrasting styles most of this series. (via NBA.com)"
Going forward, look for more highlight plays from a team that absolutely thrives in pick-and-roll and fast-break situations, and feeds off the energy of a crowd that is one of the most electrifying in all of sports.
Even on the road, though, the Knicks are just as dangerous because the players on the bench enjoy these plays just as much as the team's fans back in New York do.
In the first quarter of New York’s first playoff game this season, J.R. Smith threw down a highlight-reel dunk that got everyone in Madison Square Garden on their feet. The Knicks held a three-point lead when Smith drove down the lane and flushed it on Jeff Green.
Although Smith has struggled throughout the playoffs, it’s plays like this that force Mike Woodson to leave Smith on the floor. For J.R. to get back on track, maybe he should take note of what he did on this very play: taking his man off the dribble, not hoisting up a contested jump shot from the three-point line.
Carmelo Anthony has struggled throughout the postseason on the offensive end. However, Game 2 against the Pacers may have been the breakout performance that he needed to get going once again.
And this dunk may have been the exact turning point. With the game tied at 64-64 with about two minutes left in the third quarter, Anthony drove baseline on David West, and Jeff Pendergraph stepped in to help.
That was a bad decision by Pendergraph. Anthony soared over him, flushed in an and-one, and then proceeded to lead a 30-2 Knicks run in the fourth quarter. New York won the game 105-79 with Anthony going for 32 points on 13-of-26 from the field.
Kenyon Martin was such a huge acquisition for the Knicks. When the team signed him late in the season, it didn’t seem to be much of an impact move.
But with Tyson Chandler struggling with a neck injury, Rasheed Wallace retiring and Marcus Camby being frequently hurt, Martin was the main big man for New York down the stretch.
In Game 2 against the Celtics, Martin sent a message to Jeff Green and the rest of Boston when the forward drove the lane for what he thought was an easy layup. Martin timed it perfectly, swatted the shot, and ignited MSG into a frenzy as the Knicks would eventually win 87-71.
The Knicks led by just three points as the fourth quarter approached in Game 2 against the Pacers. The lead was due to Anthony’s monster dunk that gave his team the lead for good and energized everyone in the Garden.
Raymond Felton and Kenyon Martin trapped George Hill near half court, Felton came out with the ball and Martin trailed as his point guard tossed up a beautiful pass off the backboard.
This was one of many highlight plays in a span that wound up being a 30-2 run by the Knicks, but this was the one that put all of the momentum back in favor of the Knicks.
Iman Shumpert threw down what might have been the dunk of the year in Game 2 against the Indiana Pacers.
With the Knicks up just nine points in the second quarter of a must-win game, Chris Copeland put up an open jump shot from the wing. The shot hit the back of the rim and Shumpert, who is just a year removed from an ACL reconstructive surgery, took flight.
Yeah, I think I was trying to make a statement,” Shumpert said of his latest highlight-reel play in these playoffs. “That was the most perfect miss I’ve had in a long time, it just came off (the rim) so perfect. It was beautiful. I just wanted to win this game real bad. I knew we needed this game.” (via New York Daily News).