It’s gut check time for the New York Knicks.
With the Pacers holding a 2-1 series lead entering game 4, the Knicks will look to fight their way back into a series that seems like it may have gotten away from them.
Between the flu, the internal bickering, and Iman Shumpert’s knee the Knicks will have quite a mountain to climb tonight in Indiana if they want to even this series at 2 games a piece before heading back to New York for game 5.
Knicks fans know that the team they’ve watched in this series is not the same Knicks team that rattled off 16 straight wins just a little over a month ago. The question is – Can the Knicks find a way to get back to the team they were to finish up the season, or is that team just a distant memory at this point? Knicks head coach Mike Woodson certainly understands the urgency his team faces Tuesday night in Indiana:
Further complicating matters is the fact that JR Smith and Kenyon Martin have both been battling the flu over recent days. Both players are expected to be in uniform for the Knicks on Tuesday night.
Second year small forward Iman Shumpert is another story.
After taking an awkward fall late in game 3 Shumpert re-aggravated his surgically repaired knee. The Knicks announced Tuesday morning that they would be bringing in an orthopedic doctor to have a second look at Shumpert’s knee seeing as the swelling has not subsided since game 3.
Keys to the Game
Rebounding - If the Knicks are going to find a way to steal game 4 in Indiana it begins and ends with one thing – rebounding. After being slaughtered by the Pacers on the glasss in game 3 the Knicks need to find a way to keep Indiana’s big men, specifically Roy Hibbert, from feasting in the paint.
Raymond Felton - After a forgettable performance in game 3, Raymond Felton needs to find a way to get himself going. With JR Smith continuing to post sub par shooting numbers the Knicks desperately need offense out of Fetlon if they are going to have any chance at leaving Indiana with a win.
Tyson Chandler’s Defense - After being named to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team, Tyson Chandler has to prove he still deserves that honor. To be fair, Tyson hasn’t been that player all season. Of all the accolades in the NBA, Defensive Player of the Year, and the All-Defensive teams are the ones most commonly screw up by the voters.
Explain this – How does Marc Gasol, who just won the NBA’s defensive player of the year, not make All-Defensive first team?
The answer is simple – perception.
The bottom line is that Tyson Chandler is a slightly above average post defender at this point in his career, which is why i don’t expect much to change in game 4 in regards to Chandler making Roy Hibbert look like Hakeem. Let’s just hope I’m wrong.
The Three Ball - The Knicks offense has been heavily reliant on the three ball all season, so it should come as no surprise that with Indiana largely taking away the three point shot the Knicks offense has struggled. Head coach Mike Woodson has to find a way to get his team some open looks from deep. Whether that means getting the long lost Chris Copeland a few minutes, or just having a screenapalooza, something needs to change.
This Knicks team has proven all year that they have a lot of fight in them. Tonight we’ll see if that’s still the case.
Schedule (Pacers lead 2-1)
Game 1 - Pacers 102 Knicks 95
Game 2 - Knicks 105 Pacers 79
Game 3 - Pacers 82 Knicks 71
Game 4 – Tues May 14 at Pacers 7:00 P.M. TNT
Game 5 – Thurs May 16 at Knicks 8:00 P.M. ESPN
Game 6 * Sat May 18 at Pacers ESPN
Game 7 * Mon May 20 at Knicks 8:00 P.M. TNT
Season Series (Tied 2-2)
The New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers have played 38 playoff games
Indiana leads the all-time series 20-18
Longest Winning Streak by Knicks: 3 games
Longest Winning Streak by Pacers: 3 games
Most Points Scored by Knicks: 109 (May 6, 1993)
Most Points Scored by Pacers: 118 (May 10, 1998)
Largest Margin of Victory by Knicks: +26 (May 7, 2013)
Largest Margin of Victory by Pacers: +23 (May 4, 1993)