As the Knicks find themselves on the brink of elimination Empire Writes Back columnists Jonathan Peralta and Kevin Metz answer some of the difficult questions facing the team prior to their do or die game 5 in New York.
What do the Knicks need to do to extend this series?
The Knicks need better ball movement, find some open guys, which leads to the next thing: The Knicks need to start hitting their shots! The penetration and ball movement is what made them successful in the regular season, but it’s clear they have lost their touch and their confidence. Confidence plays a big role because now that there’s hesitation, shots are more likely to be off or someone may pass up on an open look.
Another thing is they need to start hustling more and playing harder. They’re getting killed on the boards and in the paint by the Pacers. Also, what happened with Tyson Chandler? Roy Hibbert is taking Chandler to school. Chandler needs to wake up, or the Knicks need to help Chandler out, put some bodies on Hibbert and go at him hard. -JP
Did you agree with Mike Woodson’s move to go for a big lineup in Game 4?
I understand the decision by Mike Woodson to go to a bigger lineup in game 4, but don’t think it was the right move. The Knicks two biggest problems in this series have been Poor Shooting and rebounding. From what I’ve seen, I think the rebounding deficiency is largely a result of the Knicks doubling Roy Hibbert, making them vulnerable on the glass . I think the Knicks would’ve been better served if they just committed to playing man defense, and seeing if Hibbert could really beat them. Keep in mind Hibbert only averaged 11 point per game this season, so normally he’s not a guy you worry about hurting you with his scoring.
The other problem I have with the Knicks going big is the fact that it means at any given time you have 2 post players (Chandler and Martin) who cannot create their own shot. This allows Indiana to load up on the Knicks backcourt, which has made points very difficult to come by for the New York in this series. -KM
Should Mike Woodson give some of Amare’s minutes to Chris Copeland?
Yes, Copeland should get some more playing time. Copeland was playing well but then disappeared. Yes, Copeland is inexperienced but what he brings to the table—3-point shooting, ability to finish broken plays, and fresh legs—may inject some life back into a woeful Knicks offense. -JP
Who should get more playing time in game 5 Pablo Prigioni or Jason Kidd?
Kidd has a lot of experience but he is on a monster slump, he has not scored a point in this series. The Knicks offense does not need another player on a slump, so Prigioni should get more playing time in Game 5. He’s similar to Kidd in a way where he’s a very smart player on the floor, he can create plays, he can knock down the 3′s, and is also a pesky defender. He won’t score a ton of points, but he can contribute on both sides of the floor. -JP
With J.R. Smith’s cold streak, do you play him less minutes?
As bad as J.R. Smith has been in this series, I don’t think the Knicks have any other choice but to continue letting J.R. jack up shots.
It’s clear that head coach Mike Woodson does not have enough confidence in Chris Copeland to play him extended minutes in this series, (another issue all together) which leaves the Knicks with very few offensive options. Considering that Jason Kidd cannot find his shot, Martin and Chandler are really only effective being set up in the pick and role, and Prigioni is limited offensively, the Knicks only have Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton, and J.R. Smith to get them points. The bottom line is that if J.R. Smith continues to struggle the Knicks have no chance whatsoever to extend this series to a game 6. -KM
Do you think the Knicks can survive this series and beat the Pacers in 7?
The odds are certainly against them but if the Knicks can win tonight in game 5, then somehow steal a game 6 in Indiana all bets are off. Given what we’ve seen up until this point I think it’s safe to say that unless the Knicks start making shots this series is over. -KM
If the Knicks lose this series who takes the blame?
I think the whole team is playing awful, so there isn’t one person to blame. I wouldn’t point my finger at Melo. If anything, everyone outside of Melo is to blame, because they’re not helping him out at all.
What will probably happen, though, is the blame will be put on coach Mike Woodson. He has made some questionable moves, but the players are the ones out there bricking up shots. -JP
What do you see the Knicks doing next year?
Assuming the Knicks lose this series big changes could be on the horizon. The difficult thing for the Knicks is that while their team is only getting older, others in the East are improving. It is safe to assume that the Pacers will take a step up next year. The Chicago Bulls will see the return of Derrick Rose, and by all accounts look like a lock for the Eastern Conference’s second seed. And of course Miami isn’t going anywhere. It may seem extreme but I think the Knicks have to explore the possibility of either buying out Amare Stoudemire’s contract, or creating a trade package around Tyson Chandler.
The first option really comes down to if Knicks owner James Dolan wants to shell out the money to finally end the Amare Stoudemire era in New York. If this did happen it would at least open the door on Chris Paul to the Knicks talk, which would be fun. The second option, centering on a package around Tyson Chandler is probably a bit more realistic, seeing as Chandler still holds decent value to a number of teams. Whatever the Knicks decide to do they will certainly need to remake this team in some way. If we’ve learned anything from this postseason it’s that as talented as Carmelo Anthony is, he cannot do it alone. -KM