The New York Knicks knew what was at stake going into the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Indiana Pacers. They knew it would be a tough series, one that would have to be fought tooth and nail in order to advance, and get closer to their goal. So one would think they would have a little more fight in them, but four games into the series and they have shown nothing, save for Game 2.
The Knicks lost Game 4 on Tuesday night, 93-82, and now trail 3-1 in the series and on the brink of elimination.
The Knicks have talked a big game; talking about execution, effort, having heart. Coach Mike Woodson worked on defense, tinkered with their lineup, in an attempt to reverse his team’s fortunes, but yet the Knicks have come up empty.
Woodson made his line up bigger, Kenyon Martin replacing Pablo Prigioni, in order to match up with the Pacers’ size. Woodson, understandably, wanted big bodies on the court to outmuscle the Pacers, but that didn’t work. The Pacers still outscored New York in the paint, 36-26, and outrebounded them, 54-36.
Obviously, the coach’s move was risky but logical, after getting outrebounded and beat up in the paint in their two losses.
But the Knicks’ problem was never about going bigger. The real problem is the team’s scoring, or lack thereof. The Knicks offense has been struggling all series—especially their two main scorers; Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith.
The Knicks thrived on a smaller lineup all season, and the reason why it was so successful was because Anthony was at the power forward position and was surrounded by shooters that actually made their shots. But, take that away, what do you have? You have a game like tonight’s, where the Knicks only made 8-of-28 from beyond the arc.
Knicks star, Carmelo Anthony, led the team with 24 points but again struggled from the field, shooting 9-for-23—Anthony also fouled out of the game with two minutes left to play.
J.R. Smith continued his poor shooting, going 7-of-22 from the field for 19 points, while Iman Shumpert struggled all night and failed to score, going 0-for-6 from the field. Jason Kidd was another Knick who failed to score.
Only eight NBA teams have overcome a 3-1 deficit to win the series. Can the Knicks be the ninth? The way the Knicks have been playing, it’s hard to say yes. Not taking anything away from the Pacers, because they do play hard, but it’s more about how the Knicks have been hurting themselves.
The Knicks’ quest to become that ninth team starts on Thursday night in front of their home crowd. If the team survives Game 5, it won’t get any easier. They will have to do it again in Game 6 in Indiana, where they are 0-4 this season.