Tommy DeeThe 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.