Series: Pacers Lead 3-2
When: 8:00 PM
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Starting Lineups (Subject To Change)
Pacers (#3 Seed, 49-32)
PG: George Hill
SG: Lance Stephenson
SF: Paul George
PF: David West
C: Roy Hibbert
Knicks (#2 Seed, 54-28)
PG: Raymond Felton
SG: Pablo Prigioni
SF: Iman Shumpert
PF: Carmelo Anthony
C: Tyson Chandler
Matthew Falkenbury, theKnicksBlog.com
Step One of the Knicks attempt at the “Miracle” comeback was completed with a win in Game Five on Thursday.
Now comes the hard part.
Winning in Indiana this year has been unbelievably hard for the Knicks this season. They are 0-4 and only one of those games was really even close.
The effort and energy shown by the Pacers in the two games played there this series has been much better than what the Knicks brought.
It was the difference in the wins that Indy had to take control of this series. In Game Five, things changed as the Knicks, with their backs against the wall, played like it and got the win.
The law of averages say that the open shots the Knicks were missing in Indy will start to fall. If only we knew that was going to be a guarantee.
To me the key points to beating the Pacers are keeping the rebounding edge for Indy in check, force them into turnovers and be aggressive on offense.
In Game Five the edge in rebounding for the Pacers was only 3 (compared to +18 in Game Four), the Pacers turned it over 19 times and the offense did a nice job balancing isolation with pick and roll.
If the Knicks can duplicate that in Game Six, they will be heading back home for Game Seven and not heading home for the season.
Indiana earned the chance to clinch the series at home by stealing Game One from the Knicks at the Garden. They are 5-0 at home this postseason and have won by double digits in every one of those games.
We have seen this team rise up on the road in this postseason in the Boston series and get a big win. They are going to have to do it all again except this time they don’t have the cushion of a Game Seven.
In 1994, 1995 and 1999 this franchise walked into Indiana needing a win and got it. Lets all hope that the 2012-2013 Knicks add their name to that legacy.
The “Miracle” is within grasp. Lets see if the Knicks take another step in the right direction tonight and get this back to the Garden on Monday night.
Five Questions About Tonight’s Game
- Can the Knicks keep the Pacers rebounding edge in check?
- Who will step up to help Melo?
- How will Hill look in his return to the lineup?
- What will Copeland provide tonight?
- What kind of game will Chandler and Felton have?
Via Mike Lupica
“There were other players that day, Patrick didn’t do it alone, even though we are supposed to believe now that the big guy only ever did big things alone. But he was the great Knick of his time, and this was his great moment. There he was when that Game 7 was over, towering above the moment, even on the aching knees that carried him through that game and all the others in the second half of his career.
Ewing was 31 that day. He had averaged more points in his career, but this was his best season in so many ways, 24 points a game and 11 rebounds. So he hit his number for points in Game 7, got twice the rebounds he normally got. And was one of the great Knicks of all time.
Carmelo Anthony has to be that kind of great Knick in Indianapolis Saturday night.”
Tommy Dee, theKnicksBlog.com
Big moments define players in this town and bringing the series back to MSG would add to Melo’s growing legend. Melo was outstanding in Game 5 so he’s absolutely capable. And his coach now has him in the best situation to succeed
. If they can stick to the plan that they implemented Thursday then expect the series to come back to MSG for an even bigger moment.
Ewing made his mark by delivering in many a big moment. It’s time for Melo to be at his best when his best is needed.
Tommy Dee, theKnicksBlog.com
The Knicks world is caught up in the great impact of Chris Copeland and while it’s a great story and certainly valid, I noticed an Xs and Os wrinkle yesterday that, in my opinion, has the Knicks firmly back in this series heading back to Indiana for Game 6.
The adjustment of the series, and year, went to Mike Woodson and his staff last night. I will go on record saying if the Knicks continue to run the flex offense wrinkles in Game 6 they will force Game 7.
What is the flex offense and why is it the perfect set for Playoff Melo? Here we go…
The flex is designed to get touches and baskets closer to the rim and with use of down screens (or pin downs) it allows for Melo to catch the basketball in spots where he’s more comfortable- at either elbow.
Look at Melo’s Game 3 and Game 4 shot charts. He struggled to get comfortable touches, which for scorers lead to more scoring opportunities, and thus had to settle for long shots outside the paint.
Now look at the adjustments thanks to adding flex cuts and down screens. Compare where his shots came and, more importantly, where his makes came…much closer to the basket and from mid-wing not mid baseline, the hardest angled shot on the floor.
The flex, in my opinion, is the perfect set to run against Roy Hibbert. All series the Knicks have tried to attack Hibbert when he’s in the paint. When the play is in front of him he’s been able to read the situation and anticipate chances to stop penetration before it gets to the rim. That’s what shot blockers do. They have to anticipate help and step in thus leaving their man after the offensive player commits. The beauty of the flex is that it forces Hibbert out of the paint and to either block having to follow Tyson Chandler. It also eliminates his angles as he will be forced most of the time under the rim and protecting against baseline cuts and not at the front of the rim. If Melo catches the ball in the paint off a flex cut he’s too strong for Paul George who has shown a propensity to be allergic to screens. The more screens he’s hit with the more physical the game becomes. Advantage Knicks on both sides.
Again, if Melo catches it deep and Hibbert helps on him the lob opportunities present themselves thus getting potential critical easy baskets for Kenyon Martin and Tyson Chandler, more specifically, aside from just pick and lob dunks from Ray Felton.
Speaking of Felton, he’s really good at curl elbow jumpers as well and whether off side pick and roll or pin downs, he is very good at knocking shots down on the right side elbow going left. Those makes allow for an easier trip into the paint as well as you saw last night.
More to the point, the flex is an impossible offense to consistently defend because it promotes constant movement until the point where the offense is happy with an isolation. In the Knicks case they will take Melo isos on the elbows all game long. That’s his office. Frank Vogel is on record saying that the Pacers won’t change what they do. Great. The Knicks shouldn’t either.
Keep running the flex and watch this series shift back in the Knicks favor quickly.
Tommy Dee, theKnicksBlog.com
If you had told me in 2004 that the Knicks would be reliant on Kenyon Martin and Jason Kidd my first inclination would be to scoff at the idea that they’d even be in the league.
Kidd has had many a positive moment for the Knicks this year. Some have been unforgettable and some have flown under the radar.
All season long I’ve felt that Kidd is a positive every second he’s on the floor. And when he knocks down stand still jumpers he’s downright irreplaceable.
The fact is that defensive-minded teams like the Celtics and the Pacers are terrible match ups for Kidd and that his inability to stretch the floor, make a shot, or even get shots off are all incredible detriments to the team.
Even Kidd would admit that if he’s hurting the team, his minutes should be sliced, which Woodson decided to do last night.
Via NY Post
“Kidd’s benching was the more surprising. He’s been woeful offensively, establishing an NBA record by going scoreless in eight straight playoff games (among players who logged at least 15 minutes each game). The streak is at nine straight games, as Kidd missed his only shot — a contested layup in transition. The 40-year-old legend is 0-for-17 in the nine games.”
If you’ve watched Kidd closely all season offensively then you understand his reliance on the shot fake when a defender closes out on him. The Pacers, as were the Celtics, are a very disciplined defense on the perimeter and don’t leave their feet on fakes. It’s a simple adjustment that Kidd hasn’t been able to overcome. It’s amazing that when your trigger slows just a fraction more it becomes so difficult to get the shot you want let alone be capable of knocking it down.
Kidd has slumped at the wrong time, and it appears that he’ll be limited by Woodson for the rest of the series. It’s a move the coach had to make.