The New York Knicks are in trouble, and not just because of their game 1 loss at home curse. They’re in trouble because the Indiana Pacers have found out how to make Carmelo Anthony look pretty bad for an entire game, through their own brand of stifling defense and going for the teeth offense, and they don’t have a backup plan to counter it.
It seems the discussion over the matchup problems for Anthony has been the main issue since the 102-95 loss in the series opener. While Anthony has played a lot of the season at the ‘4’ position, the Pacers pose quite a problem. Anthony is bigger than most small forwards, but Paul George has the length, athleticism, speed and brains to make Anthony work hard for any shot he takes against him. Not having a quickness advantage over the bigger David West is the other problem for Carmelo, who went 10 for 28 from the field in the opening game, scoring 27 points.
This leads many to believe the Knicks will start Kenyon Martin next to Anthony, and drop Prigioni from the lineup, giving Shumpert a chance to play in a position he feels more natural in. So far, it’s a lot of cloak and daggers from Mike Woodson, who doesn’t feel like he was outcoached or anything of the sorts in game 1. Simply a bad shooting day, but inside, he knows he needs to make some adjustments.
And while the Pacers had a successful start to the series on the road, they also know that their physical advantages won’t keep them on top forever. Roy Hibbert isn’t always going to get the best of Tyson Chandler, and shooting as bad as they did during the first game, including 5-14 from George and 5-17 from George Hill might not be enough to carry them in the second game and definitely not throughout the series, as the Knicks are bound to have a better shooting day from both Anthony and J.R. Smith at some point.
It’s going to be a brutal Game 2. The Knicks are a group that has a lot of pride, and prickly at that. The Pacers hurt them where it pains the most during game 1, manhood and physicality. Expect the Knicks to start out bigger and a lot more aggressive from the first moment, while Indiana will be looking to play a little bit smarter on offense.
Predictions – It’s hard to win two games on the road, especially when you’re not that much of a better team. The Pacers’ size advantage won’t work for them every night, and at some point, their bad shooting will catch up with them. The Knicks can’t afford to lose again, and are likely to even it up before heading to Indianapolis.