Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Head-scratching scenarios from Game 4
By Jared Zwerling
While the Pacers clearly pose problems for the Knicks, the 'Bockers are beating themselves in certain ways by not adjusting. That goes for the coaches and the players.
Here are five head-scratchers from the Game 4 loss on Tuesday and how the Knicks could look to overcome them as they try to stave off elimination on Thursday night:
1. No Pablo in the second half. Starting point guard Pablo Prigioni, relegated to the bench as the Knicks went to a larger lineup, played only three minutes in Game 4. Jason Kidd, who hasn't scored a point since April 23, even checked in before Prigioni.
Mike Woodson should've called an audible at the start of the third quarter to abandon the big lineup and get Prigioni in the game, because Pacers point guard George Hill was going off on Raymond Felton in pick-and-rolls. Prigioni's full-court pressure and swarming ball presence could've helped.
Iman Shumpert (right) played just 16 minutes.
Hill finished with a series-high 26 points. While the Pacers finished 40.8 percent from the field, their pick-and-roll ball handlers (mostly Hill) shot 58.3 percent.
2. Why only 16 minutes for Iman Shumpert? If it was knee-related, that would be one thing, but Woodson said Shumpert's limited playing time had nothing to do with that. So what then? Meanwhile, his regular defensive assignment, Paul George, became the first Pacers player since Mark Jackson in 1998 to have at least 18 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in a playoff game.
When Prigioni and Shumpert aren't in the game together, the Knicks lack backcourt defensive pressure. It was the perimeter that got the job done offensively for the Pacers, whose center, Roy Hibbert, scored just six points.
3. Quick hook for Cope. Fifty-two seconds into the fourth quarter, Chris Copeland drained a 3-pointer that cut the deficit to 10. About 30 seconds later, he was on the bench with Carmelo Anthony replacing him. But they should've played together.
The Knicks needed to maintain their scoring momentum, and Copeland's 3-point shooting and offensive versatility would've been helpful. Woodson should've also considered playing Steve Novak. The Pacers' bigs, especially Hibbert, have gotten comfortable laying low in the middle; a more spread-out offense could force them to commit.
4. No offensive creativity. Holding the ball too long is exactly what the Pacers want J.R. Smith to do. It stalls the Knicks' offense, giving the Pacers, a great defensive team, time to set up. The Knicks need to utilize Smith more as a traditional 2-guard, running him off more screens to get him catch-and-shoot opportunities.
When Smith and Anthony are attacking, they need to examine the entire court. Anthony talked all season long about trusting his teammates more. The Knicks will win Game 5 only with offensive balance.
5. Why the slower pace? After Game 4, Amar'e Stoudemire said, "We're not getting into our offense fast enough, no pace. [The Pacers] are great in half-court sets defensively." The biggest problem with this statement? The Knicks have played this way in all their losses. The Knicks need to make every defensive rebound count and look to push. The Knicks have enough speedy guards to capitalize in transition. The team's overall lack of intensity has been disastrous to their defensive and offensive flow.