WHAT IT MEANS: These are the kind of results that people were expecting from the Knicks coming into the season, though I doubt that anyone would have told you they would come in this manner. Tonight’s game showed what will work for this team -- aggressive trapping defense, constant movement (both ball and player) offensively -- and what won’t work -- passive defense and falling in love with their firepower.
It’s only three games into Mike Woodson’s tenure, so it’s fair to wonder how permanent this kind of play is. If these Knicks can sustain this, they become a very dangerous team in the East. Teams like Boston, Atlanta, and the Pacers aren’t out of reach. Unfortunately, New York squandered the easy part of their schedule, and now face the toughest post-All Star break schedule in the East.
If this is just a honeymoon bounce, well...the Knicks and their fans really can’t afford for that to be true.
THE GOOD: The Bench was pivotal tonight, and probably will be for the remainder of the season. It’s unexpected, to say the least. At the start of the season, the Knicks had all the earmarks of a top heavy team. However, it seems that if this team will be successful, it won’t be with the silky smooth personality of their stars -- Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire.
Instead, the Knick team that the East should fear is one that is built on the game that their low-key coach wants, and the nothing-to-lose, leave-everything-on-the-floor “supporting cast” led by Tyson Chandler and J.R. Smith.
THE BAD: The Knicks allowed 35 first quarter points to the Pacers, a defensive efficiency of over 147. This just one day after notching a first quarter defensive efficiency of 59.5. Though they only trailed by two after 12 minutes, that New York team looked a lot like the broad (and out of date) stereotype of the Knicks who just want to outscore people. That will not get it done.
LIVE BY THE THREE, DIE BY THREE: Late in the first, early in the second, when the Knicks turned the game around, the surge was fueled by some timely threes. In the third, when the Pacers crept back in, the Knicks went 0-for-5 from beyond the arc.
STILL ALIVE: With the departure of Mike D’Antoni and his Pick-and-Roll heavy offense, it was widely reported that “Linsanity” was over. Well, don’t tell the Pacers that. Jeremy Lin tortured Indiana -- filling the box score with 19 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. He was especially effective in the fourth quarter as the Knicks pulled away, scoring eight points.
BOLD PLAY THE GAME: With the Pacers scoring at will and starting to pull away, the Knicks found J.R. Smith on back-to-back possessions for treys. Smith’s one-man, 6-2 run altered the complexion of the game, setting the Knicks on their path to a convincing road win.
UP NEXT: The Toronto Raptors come to town on Tuesday night, bringing with them a 7-14 road record, 16-29 overall.