Monday, May 6, 2013

Notes From Game 1: Pacers Stifle The Knicks

Photo: Mike Segar - Reuters

New series, same old story. You can finesse the narrative however you want, it boils down to the cold hard facts: Carmelo Anthony's name may as well be Buck, and he comes to chuck. If he's hitting, the Knicks are reeeeally hard to beat (he was basically NBA Jams "On FIRE" for his 10 games in April, averaging 36.9 ppg on 53.6% shooting, including a mind melting 46.7% from 3 on almost 6 attempts a game, and hauling in 9.9 rbg as the Knicks closed 8-2).
Then...the playoffs started.
In his 7 games, Melo is averaging almost 27 shots a game (he averaged about 22 field goal attempts a night during the season) and is only hitting about 10. During that span, the Knicks coughed up 2 very winnable games to the scrappy-yet-outgunned Celtics and got throttled by the defensively ironclad Pacers in Game 1's 102-95 loss. There are bright spots for the Knicks, but unless Melo either regains the form that garnered him his lone first place MVP vote or starts to trust his teammates again, the Knicks will be joining the Celts on an early vacation fraught with questions. So, check out the series preview by the always on-point Quentin Haynes here. Then...
Some notables from game 1:

  • Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, and Chris Copeland combined to go 14 for 26. JR Smith and Carmelo Anthony combined to go 14 for 42. the Knicks as a whole only took 81 shots.
  • 29 year NY rook Chris Copeland dropped 20, 32, and 33 points the last 3 regualr season games, had 9 games of 15+ points this season, and has shot 48% (42% from 3). He's only seen action in 2 games this post season, including the measly 8 minutes he got last night (he went 2-3 from 3). Why, Mike Woodson?
  • The Pacers were rock solid defensively all year, giving up the 2nd least points per game in the NBA (90.7). They slipped some in April, going 2-5 and giving up an average of 101.9 ppg. They were back to their stingy ways in the playoffs, giving up 92.6 ppg to ATL and holding the healthy Knicks offense (11th in the league at 100 ppg) to 43% shooting.
  • Pacers guards killed the Knicks: Pacers 6'5" starting SG Lance Stephenson, a New York native, was the unsung hero of the game, scoring 11 points, leading all players with 13 rebounds, and swiping 3 steals. He was +17 in his 39 minutes of playing time. George Hill and back up DJ Augustin combined for 30 points on 4-6 3 point shooting. In contrast, Felton and Jason Kidd combined for 18 points (Kidd went for a goose egg).
  • Going small may be the Knicks' downfall; Indiana's front line of Paul George-David West-Roy Hibbert combined to go 19-38 for 53 points, 17 rebounds, 10 assists, and 7 blocks. Throw in Tyler Hansbrough's 8 points and 4 boards and that spells domination (Melo-Iman Shumpert-Tyson Chandler went 16-41 for 42 points, 17 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks).
  • Monsters in The Middle: In the 6 previous head-to-head match-ups, Tyson Chandler had handily owned Roy Hibbert, out playing him to the tune of 12.3 ppg/12/5 rpg/55%/2 blks to 9.3 ppg/5.8 rpg/45%/1.6 blks. Hibbert got the upper hand in a big way on Sunday, tallying 14 points, 8 boards and 5 blocks to Chandler's 4 points, 3 boards, 2 blocks and 6 fouls. Beyond the numbers, Hibbert challenged every knick drive and layup, making New York's life hell around the rim.

The Pacers Hope For: More of the same. This was an Indiana type of game. If the Pacers control the paint and the tempo like this, this series may be over in 5.

The Knicks Hope For: Melo and JR Smith to return to their April form, when they averaged a combined 59 ppg and 16.5 rpg on 22.9-44.4 (51.5%) in the 8 games they played together. Magical return to health for Tyson Chandler, who averaged a strong 10 ppg, 10 rpg on 63% regular season but is down to 5 ppg and 8 rpgs in the playoffs.

Game 2 is Tuesday, May 7 at 7:00 pm EST On TNT

Who wins the series? Let me know here, or on Twitter, @SnottieDrippen


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