Mike Bibby to start Game 5
May, 8, 2012
By Jared Zwerling | ESPNNewYork.com
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- With Baron Davis out, Mike Bibby will get the start in Game 5 on Wednesday night.
Bibby's strength in the series so far has been his clutch 3-point shooting, especially in Game 4. With 1:08 left in the third quarter, he put the Knicks ahead 62-58, and with 1:23 remaining in the fourth, he put the team up 84-81.
In fact, scouts describe the 33-year-old as more of a glorified shooting guard at this later stage in his 14-year career. He's not fast enough to consistently blow by anyone and, therefore, doesn't put much pressure on the defense, especially in this series because he'll be mostly asked to bring the ball up the court efficiently, which he will, and then find Carmelo Anthony early in the halfcourt offense. Then, Melo will act as the point-forward, and when he drives, Bibby will become another shooter spotting up from downtown.
Bibby's other asset is his 10 years of experience in the playoffs, so he'll bring composure and stability to the point guard position. That means few turnovers, especially because he doesn't look to get fancy dribbling and setting up plays. That's where Davis would sometimes get into trouble, trying to make a streetball pass. Bibby, instead, is more of a traditional point guard.
In addition, Bibby should know how to work the Heat a bit to start the game, as he knows more about their defensive tendencies having played for them last season.
Mike Woodson being Mike Woodson said that if "I can get 30, 40 minutes out of [Bibby], I'll play him 30 to 40 minutes." That's because since taking over the team on March 14, Woody's MO has been: I play who is playing well (except for Carmelo Anthony, of course). If it's not Bibby, perhaps his Game 5 backup, Toney Douglas, who hasn't played in the series, who will get some additional burn.
"I'm going to play guys who are playing," Woodson said. "If [Bibby's] playing well, he's going to play. I've got to try to win a game. One game tomorrow and then try to get back home.
"Every time I step out on that floor, I think we can win a basketball game regardless of who's in uniform. It's kind of been that way since I've taken over. We've been shorthanded pretty much all year. Guys have stepped up and did what they've had to do to help us."
In any event, while Woodson and the players won't admit it, they're going to need every ounce of Anthony to have another big game in the 30-plus-point category, and Amare Stoudemire will have to contribute around 20 points again (like he did in Game 4). On the side, J.R. Smith, Steve Novak and, of course, Bibby will need to big shots when they're open, because they will be open from Melo's penetration and the double teams he'll be attracting in the post. The team just needs to be able to work the ball better to the weakside to throw off the Heat's D, and that will require everyone who's handing the ball, including the Knicks' star, to spark that kind of movement.
"As far as point goes, we're all going to have to do it," Anthony said. "I can't say I'm going to be out there running point or anything like that. We've all been trying to figure out a way of what to do without Jeremy [Lin] playing the point. Some way, somehow, we've been getting through it."
Yes, through you, Melo.
You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.