The New York Knicks did not look ready for the second round of the playoffs against the Indiana Pacers. They looked sluggish and awful. Were they still in celebration mode for beating the Celtics?
Two things that jumped out that contributed to their Game 1 loss of the semifinals 1) The Knicks’ shooting slump continued and 2) their defense. We’ll get to their shooting woes soon but first let’s look at the defense. After a great defensive series against the Celtics in the first round, the Knicks took a step back and allowed the Pacers to score 102 points (46 points in the paint); the Pacers also shot 48.7 percent from the field and also out rebounded the Knicks 44-30.
The second concern is the Knicks’ ongoing shooting slump, mainly J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks were able to get by the Celtics but they need to snap out of their slump against this tough and aggressive Pacers team. The Knicks’ two most prolific scorers combined to miss 29 of 43 field goals.
In the last four games, the Knicks have lost three, and in those games Anthony has shot 31 percent from the field (9 percent from beyond the arc), while Smith has 28 percent from the field.
Carmelo Anthony continues to struggle in the playoffs, shooting an awful 10 of 28 for 27 points, while sixth man of the year only made 4 of 15 from the field for 17 points.
What happened to both of them? No, more importantly, what happened to Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks’ elite scorer?
Anthony is not sinking in his jump-shots, and suddenly can’t finish around the rim. In the playoffs, Anthony has shot 36 percent around the rim, which is an alarming drop from his regular-season percentage (52 percent).
The Pacers aren’t a better team than the Knicks, especially not on offense, but if Smith and especially Anthony continue to struggle, the Knicks’ run in the playoffs may end this round.
The Pacers are big and play tough defense, so the Knicks and Anthony have to figure out a way to get back on track and not play into the Pacers’ game because they will get pushed around again, just like they did in Game 1.