W2W4: Knicks vs. Pacers, Game 2
May, 7, 2013
By Jared Zwerling | ESPNNewYork.com
First things first: The Knicks need their top two scorers, Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, to have better shooting nights in Game 2. They combined to go 14-for-43 on Sunday afternoon in the Knicks loss. Tyson Chandler's four-point, three-rebound performance didn't help matters, as the Pacers dominated inside offensively on the glass and shot 48.7 percent from the field.
Here are three things the Knicks need Tuesday (7 p.m. tipoff) to tie up the series:
1. More defensive intensity. Those who watched the Bulls upset the Heat in Game 1 can relate to this. For 48 minutes, the short-handed Bulls played hard, smart and together, and they took pride in their defensive assignments. The Knicks need to use that as motivation entering Game 2 after getting "outplayed" in Game 1, as Anthony said.
The Pacers backed down the Knicks, especially in the post, the domain of David West and Roy Hibbert. In addition, Paul George stepped it up defensively against Anthony and Smith, who shot a combined 5-for-24 against the Pacers' All-Star swingman.
The Knicks' defense starts with their guards. In Game 1, George Hill, D.J. Augustin and Lance Stephenson combined for two turnovers, and they routinely got into lanes in pick-and-rolls to easily feed their big teammates. Chandler and Kenyon Martin need to be much more active in screen coverage, on the boards and in keeping Hibbert out of the paint. The Knicks' bigs need to mimic Joakim Noah's recent play.
"In playoff basketball, there are individual matchups that got to be dealt with, and then there's team matchups," Mike Woodson said Monday. "I don't think we did either last night. Our team rotations were off the money, and our individual matchups weren't that great."
2. More screen sets and quicker ball flow. The Knicks got away from the pick-and-roll in the second half of Game 1. They need to get back to it and also incorporate Anthony and Smith in more facilitating and screening roles. They need little room to pull up or pop out for jump shots, but the key is their attacking and quick passing.
Being that the ball is in their hands more often, they need to know when to move it faster to throw off the Pacers' defense. How about some more skip passes off the dribble? Their quick decision-making will also help them get the ball again in an easier shot situation.
3. Chandler and Martin generating offense together. After the Game 1 loss, Woodson said he would draw up new offensive sets for Chandler and Martin to find some looks. That's because they would play together more to counter the Pacers' size.
During the past two days of practice, Woodson has implemented those schemes. He wouldn't get into specifics but said Tuesday, "We added a few more things today, so we'll see how it plays out."
"It's going to take a little rhythm, I think, to be out there together," Martin said. "But just reading it and then knowing our basketball IQ, I think that'll help more than anything."
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