Saturday, November 17, 2012
W2W4: Knicks vs. Pacers
By Jared Zwerling
No Danny Granger for three months (left knee patellar tendinosis), but the Pacers still have strong frontcourt players in center Roy Hibbert, power forwards David West and Tyler Hansbrough, and small forward Paul George. After matching up with Memphis' inside muscle Friday night, the Knicks will see a team with a similar makeup Sunday afternoon at the Garden, even though the 4-6 Pacers have been struggling some.
Here are three things to watch for, starting at noon:
1. Can the Knicks limit the Pacers' rebounding? Indiana ranks second in the league in boards per game (48.7), and the Knicks are fourth-worst at 38.9. The Knicks will need their perimeter players to crash the boards more, which George (7.6) and Gerald Green (5.2) do well. Size could play factor in the game. The Pacers are also physical and grind out their halfcourt possessions to wear down opponents, which they proved effective against the Heat in the playoffs last season. Therefore, the Knicks will need to match that full-game intensity, especially because Indiana coach Frank Vogel goes deep off his bench to maintain consistency. But while he doesn't have to worry about drop-offs in energy, he does have to worry about second unit scoring. The Knicks have the edge there.
2. Can the Knicks excel in their individual defensive matchups? The Pacers don't move the ball particularly well, as they rank last in the league in assists per game (17.6). Rather, they score a bunch in isolations -- from Hibbert and West in the post, to George and George Hill on the perimeter -- so each Knick needs to step up with his assignment. George vs. Ronnie Brewer will be especially interesting to watch. The Pacers' emerging star, as well as Green, are very athletic -- two of the best dunkers in the league. For that reason, the Pacers can be dangerous in transition.
3. Can Rasheed Wallace keep it going in the post? After all of the anticipation about Amar'e Stoudemire bringing a back-to-the-basket game to the Knicks, surprisingly Sheed has stepped up nicely in that area. Against the Grizzlies, he scored 13 points inside (no 3-pointers). To counter Hibbert and West -- similar to Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph -- Mike Woodson will turn to Wallace on the block Sunday afternoon.