The Knicks entered Tuesday’s game 2 with their backs against the wall. This game was being looked at like a game 7 for the Knicks, and not too many people were giving them much of a chance after their performance in game 1. Everyone (well almost everyone) was talking about the Knicks possibly being swept by the Indiana Pacers and how bad of a matchup they are for the Knicks. Yes, the Pacers are tall, defensive minded, and physical, but there’s a reason they are the 3 seed and not the 1 seed. They struggle to score the basketball, and anyone with a brain should have realized that D.J. Augustin and Lance Stephenson aren’t going to score a combined 27 points every night. The game 1 loss was also more on the Knicks and their lack of effort than anything else. Now, some of what we saw may never happen again, statistically speaking. I mean 30-2 runs don’t happen everyday. However, it is the style of play and the desire to win we saw in game 2 that the Knicks can duplicate going forward. Let’s breakdown what transpired at Madison Square Garden last night.
The Knicks jumped out of the gate to an early lead last night. They got the crowd involved in the game, and it seemed as if they had a definite game plan and they stuck to it. Or, they finally read my last post about what they need to do in order to beat the Pacers. They did just about everything I said they needed to do. They pushed the pace, they played great defense, and their offense was efficient (except for J.R.). He has been beyond awful. Why he stopped taking the ball to the basket I’ll never understand. I must put some of his poor decision making on Coach Woodson. If I were Woodson, I would sit Smith down and say, “Son, you don’t shoot from outside of 15 feet unless you are WIDE OPEN or the shot clock is under 2 seconds!” If he doesn’t listen then you sit his ass on the bench for Iman Shumpert. Speaking of Iman Shumpert, let me just say ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh babyyyyyyyyyyyyy!! Was that dunk awesome or was that dunk awesome? His ferocious dunk from last night was filthy, dirty, and it was disgusting! For those of you who missed it, click below to check out Iman Shumpert’s sick one handed put back:
His athleticism is outstanding and he’s a special talent when he’s 100% healthy (as you can see he now is). Now if you go back to that video and pause it at 12 seconds you can actually see his hair hit the ceiling. It’s pretty cool. Anyway, there was 1 component to the Knicks victory that stuck out above the rest; their swarming help defense. Any success the Knicks have had or are going to have starts with their defense. As for last night they helped each other, they rotated to the ball, and they forced numerous turnovers. They won the turnover battle 21-6. Without that same defensive intensity throughout the rest of the series, the Knicks will not advance to the next round. Solid defense is also so important because it turns into easy offense. The Knicks scored 32 points off of turnovers, making life a whole lot easier. As for their offense, like I said earlier, they pushed the pace, they swung the ball, and they made quick decisions. Most importantly Carmelo Anthony let the game come to him instead of forcing the issue. It’s no secret formula, but when you normally shoot the ball a million times and then one day you decide to pass the ball and wait for it to cycle back to you, you find yourself OPEN, magically. It’s shocking I know. Melo didn’t get to the free throw line as often as you’d like to see, but he was 50% from the field going 13 for 26. He finished with 32 points and 9 rebounds, which was clearly his best game of the playoffs so far. I would be committing a crime though if I didn’t give credit to Iman Shumpert. He played a fantastic all around game, and maybe now Woodson will leave him on the floor down the stretch.
Now the run in the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th quarter was impressive, but don’t forget that the score of this game at one point was 64-62, Pacers. The Knicks after jumping out to an early lead, slowly regressed back to their usual selves. There was a stretch toward the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half where they looked like they were going to let a victory slip through their fingers. As I’ve been saying all year, they lack a killer instinct. In the playoffs that’s one attribute you’d love to have in your back pocket. But in the end we must give them credit for their resiliency. They fought back and went on that historic run to not just close the door on this game but slam it. I think we will see the Knicks carry this momentum to Indiana. I think they will take the Pacers down in game 3 on Saturday. To watch all the action tune in to ABC @ 8:00 p.m. I see another low scoring affair in the Pacers future. 94-89, Knicks. You can book this one too.
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