Tuesday, May 14, 2013
W2W4: Knicks at Pacers, Game 4
By Jared Zwerling
Since the Knicks' Game 3 loss on Saturday, Tyson Chandler has expressed his displeasure with the team's offense, Kenyon Martin has come down with an illness, J.R. Smith still feels sick, and now Iman Shumpert is dealing with soreness in his surgically-repaired left knee.
But the veteran Knicks have rallied when they've had roster issues before. They will need to do so more than ever in Game 4, because the Knicks have never come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series in franchise history.
Here are four things the Knicks need on Tuesday (tipoff at 7 p.m.) to tie up the series at 2-2:
1. How about some more star scoring? While Smith and Carmelo Anthony have combined to shoot 35.7 percent against the Pacers, the rest of the team is at 49.6 percent. The Knicks only scored 71 points in Game 3, and they won't win Game 4 if Anthony and Smith continue to struggle. If Smith doesn't play -- he's listed as questionable, along with Martin and Shumpert -- Anthony might need to have the kind of performance he had in Miami back on April 2. That night he went for a season-high 50 points.
2. More scoring from the role players, too. This can't happen again: Raymond Felton finishing with six points in Game 3, and Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni going scoreless. Felton is the X-factor offensively. While he's been having some trouble finishing at the rim with the 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert standing in his way, Felton's midrange game needs to be on. He also needs to score more in transition, being the fastest guard on the team. In addition, Mike Woodson should run him off more screens because he has an effective catch-and-shoot setup.
3. Rebounding is essential. In the Pacers' two wins, they out-rebounded the Knicks by 26. Woodson will likely start his small-ball lineup -- which means the guards, especially, need to do a better job of boxing out. They were more aware of that in the Celtics series, which enabled them to control possessions and the tempo. The Knicks have enough guards who can lead their own fast breaks. However, against the Pacers, the Knicks have slowed it down, which has affected their offense.
4. Bring the intensity. The Knicks need to come out much more fired up than they were in Game 3. The Pacers uncharacteristically hit three 3-pointers to start the game, with the Knicks trailing behind in their rotations. How about some early full-court pressure and sudden half-court traps? The Knicks should surprise the Pacers with some different perimeter defensive schemes. From there, Chandler needs to be as active down low as he was when the Mavericks upset the Heat in the 2011 Finals. The Knicks should approach this game as if it's a Game 7 on the biggest stage.