Can Knicks Stick with Small-Ball?

With Pablo Prigioni expected back for Game 2, the Knicks will once again likely start the game with a two point-guard attack, with Iman Shumpert at small forward. Head coach Mike Woodson was happy with the team’s Game 1 effort but felt that Prigioni was definitely missed. Prigioni’s return allows the Knicks to go with two point guards for most of the game, as they can essentially rotate Prigioni and Kidd and have them play a similar role, but the smaller lineups could create openings for a bigger Celtics lineup, as writes Jared Zwerling over at ESPN New York:

With the extra point guard on the court, the Knicks can look to score more off the pick-and-roll, which should force the Celtics to scramble to rotate. The Knicks would also be more likely to make the extra pass. Woodson said the offense in Game 1 became too stagnant at times with Felton as the sole point guard on the court. While Felton played well, the coach said Prigioni was “definitely missed.” 

But here’s the question: Can a smaller Knicks lineup contain the Celtics? With Felton on Pierce and Shumpert on Green, Doc Rivers could call more isolation plays on the perimeter and in the low post. Woodson would likely have to send an extra defender at the Celtics’ two best scorers, which means the Knicks’ perimeter rotations need to be on point.

Brian DiMenna

This is obviously going to be one of those chess match aspects of the game, but I’d much prefer to see the Knicks initially forcing Boston to adjust to them, rather than the other way around. If the Celtics’ bigger lineups causes problems, the Knicks can always adjust, but given that New York happens to be the better team, I’d be reluctant to go away from what they do best unless Boston really forces their hand.

Follow Brian on Twitter