Series: 1-0 Pacers
When: 7:00 PM
Where: Madison Square Garden
Starting Lineups (Subject To Change)
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
With home court advantage now gone for the moment, the Knicks know that tonight is pretty much a must win against the Pacers.
Indiana had the dream start to this series and can feel confident knowing they are in the drivers seat and could take full control before heading home.
I felt that the Pacers played a perfect game on Sunday. They made a solid number of three’s, had a great edge rebounding and on second chance points plus they got enough leeway from the Refs to be as physical as they wanted.
The Knicks got off to a great start on Sunday before the wheels fell off because all that was mentioned above along with Melo and Smith not making shots.
Melo and Smith know that the Knicks need them to be the best players on the court at all times if they want to make a run at an NBA title. If they are not, things will be very bleak.
In Game Six against Boston, although they did not perform up to their capabilities, they had help from Shumpert and Prigioni shouldering the scoring early and late in the game.
It is the potential for balance, led by Raymond Felton at the point, that the Knicks have which makes them dangerous. If that balance is thrown out of whack because Melo and Smith’s shots are off, then things will get dicey.
There is no guarantee that today will be the day their shots do return to form. That where guys like Felton, Shumpert, Prigioni and Chandler must step up and help the Knicks.
The trust and ball movement we saw from them in Game Six was the main reason why they won and why they built up a 26 point lead in the fourth quarter.
The other thing that has to be corrected is the rebounding. The Pacers are the best rebounding team in the league and they put that on full display Sunday. The second chance opportunities killed the Knicks, especially when they were trying to make comebacks throughout the second half.
The Pacers offense has the ability to disappear at a moments notice. They were one of the worst shooting teams in the league and if that happens to show up tonight it will help the Knicks. But, if they allow them to dominate on the glass like they did on Sunday, things will be problematic.
The Knicks have their backs up against the wall for the first time this post-season because this is the first time they have trailed in a series. The loss on Sunday should be a walk up call that this round will not be an easy one.
A win tonight guarantees the series will return to the Garden next week for a Game Five and gives them new life before heading on the road to Indiana.
This is the kind of night where the best players take their games to the next level and lead their teams to victory. Melo can do that and he can have help along the way.
We will see if that happens, because if it doesn’t, the Knicks will be really behind the 8-ball.
Five Questions About Tonight’s Game
- Can Melo get his shot back on track?
- Will Tyson Chandler show up?
- How much physicality can the Pacers get away with?
- Which J.R. Smith will we see?
- Can Pablo Prigioni and Iman Shumpert add scoring punch like in Game Six vs. Boston?