It’s one thing to “help” Carmelo Anthony shoot with horrible accuracy from the field; the sheer volume of his attempts from the field aid with that. But Paul George is leading the Indiana Pacers towards the Eastern Conference Finals without being too incredible on offense, but doing an incredible work on the NBA’s leading scorer in the regular season, aided by the fact that his team is annihilating their rivals on the board and in the paint.
Carmelo Anthony isn’t getting the help he needs from the players around him, but this was always going to be about Anthony taking the bulk of the offensive load, like he loves to do, while the others simply limit their mistakes and makes the right decisions. Both things aren’t happening. Anthony shot 9-23 from the field, finishing with 24 points; the rest of the Knicks were just as bad, shooting 35.6% from the field, ending up losing 82-93, going down 1-3 as the series heads back to New York.
George is doing the one thing the Boston Celtics couldn’t do in the first round series: He’s keeping Anthony away from the free throw line, which used to be a very big part of his big scoring days, even when his shooting was off the mark. Anthony went to the line only 5 times in Game 4, and shot 25% (4 of 16) when George was guarding him. He’s now 31.6% from the field during the series when it’s Paul George that’s guarding him, while shooting 55.6% from the field when others are keeping tabs on him.
And the Knicks can’t get anything done easily. They keep going for Pick n Roll plays – on more than a third of their possessions in game 4 and around the same number for the entire series, compared with spot up shots (23.9%) being their favorite go-to play during the regular season. The Pacers are one of the best teams in the NBA in limiting Pick & Roll points, with George Hill and Paul George getting around the blocks and not letting Raymod Felton (7-16, 14 points) or Anthony find themselves in a situation where they can get easy shots.
The Pacers aren’t really a Pick& Roll team, but they did very well in Game 4, especially through George Hill, who led the way with 24 points, on such possessions, scoring 58.3% on those plays compared with 34.3% their ball handlers shot on this play in the previous three games. The Knicks’ defense is getting desperate, while the Pacers, not the easiest offense to watch in the world, is slightly going away from their spot-up shooting and trying to find things that work on a more consistent basis.
Roy Hibbert wasn’t very dominant offensively scoring only 6 points as the Knicks went big and tried to limit his destructiveness, but it didn’t really help them on the other side. They scored only 26 points on 38.2% from the field inside the paint, and are shooting significantly worse (40.6% compared with 61.9%) in their three losses from inside. Not finding a way to get any kind of motion on their offense doesn’t allow for Hibbert to be moved away from the basket, and the Knicks can’t seem to score on him. Even when he wasn’t getting shots to drop, the Pacers were at their best when he was on the floor.
Rebounding is another issue that’s been a one-way street in favor of the Pacers, grabbing 16 offensive boards and winning the rebounding battle 54-36. The Knicks are getting desperate, losing faith and hope in their ability to get something out of this series. Without Carmelo Anthony finding a way to overcome someone who might be the best perimeter defender in the NBA, the Knicks don’t stand a chance of even making sounds of coming back.