New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers – A Mid-Series Conversation

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Joe Caporoso and Chris Celletti have decided to again talk out their concerns, anxiety and predictions, this time about the remainder of the New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers second round series, which is currently tied 1-1. 

Joe CaporosoWell Tuesday was fun, no? Nothing like the old 30-2 run to shake off your concerns about the New York Knicks being bullied out of the playoffs by a team with inferior talent but substantially more size. You can also count me among the ones who projected the Knicks would pull away in a second round playoff game to serenades of “PABLO…PABLO” while Kenyon Martin was leading our defense and Quentin Richardson was getting ready to knock down some garbage time threes. Yet, I am little concerned still. Why is JR Smith back to being “JR GODDAMNIT!” all of a sudden? And why is Tyson Chandler all of a sudden looking about half as good as Roy ‘Freakin Hibbert? WHY CAN’T I BE HAPPY?

Chris CellettiYou can’t be happy because I can’t be happy either, and I think that’s because we have this air of inevitability about our sports teams. This is mostly due to the jackasses in green and white that we root for. Mark Sanchez ruins everything.

Tuesday reminded me very much of the first two games of the first round against the Celtics. The New York Knicks built a nice early lead behind some solid defense and efficient offense, but it was erased mostly when the shots stopped falling. Remember that even when the Pacers finally usurped the Knicks, the score was 61-60 with just under four minutes to go in the 3rd. It wasn’t the defense, even if it continually is infuriating to watch George Hill bang down open threes. But soon Frank Vogel called a timeout to stunt his own team’s rhythm and off the Knicks went. The most relieving thing of all, really, was Carmelo Anthony’s second half, no? Up until that point he was really toeing the line between “slump” and “choke job”, and he quickly pulled a 180. When he hit that three from the left wing to put break a 64-64 deadlock, it seemed like everyone in the Garden, and Knicks fans everywhere, exhaled. And most importantly, he and the rest of the team did too. Very encouraging to see him finish at 50% from the field, especially given how he started.

You mentioned Pablo Prigioni, who I think has clearly played his way ahead of J.R. Smith on the depth chart. He has simply earned more minutes than I think he’s been getting. I don’t think Smith should be BENCHED altogether, but I think Mike Woodson needs to really consider shaving his minutes down a bit, and who better to give them to than Prigioni? He keeps hitting huge threes, grabbing rebounds and playing stingy, versatile defense. Do you agree? Or would you keep giving Smith a lot of minutes since that’s what happened all season?

Joe CaporosoUsurped? That is some fancy talk there, it reminds me of Game of Thrones. ANYWAY, I stumbled across this article when thinking on your question and those numbers are staggering. There is no question Pablo should be playing more and that inevitably will come at the expense of some JR Smith minutes, although it will also likely cost Jason (I haven’t scored a point in my last 6 games) Kidd some time as well. You don’t want to deviate too far from what got you here but Pablo needs 7-10 more minutes per game and if it costs JR, then so be it. He is looking scary awful right now, maybe he makes more out of less and it sends a needed message to him.

Apparently our $100 million dollar player is returning on Saturday to the line-up. Where does he fit into this mix? You can’t cut down Kenyon Martin’s minutes too much, considering the difference maker he has been. Tyson Chandler has struggled but even at 50% of his normal self, he is a better defender than Amare Stoudemire. It is hard to think that he can’t contribute something to this team considering the Pacers size but does 8-12 minutes for him mess with the rotation too much?

Chris Celletti - I think Stoudemire’s minutes should be totally based on the situation and matchups. If the Knicks need points, they can go small with Stoudemire at the 5 and try to lure Hibbert away from the paint, or make him pay for sagging back to below the rim on screens. The other side to that coin, however, is that Stoudemire at the 5 with Hibbert on the floor is a tough matchup defensively. The Knicks are a good doubling team and, as they did often in Game 2, force turnovers when they double in the post. On Tuesday, they flustered Hibbert a few times by sending aggressive doubles, once forcing him into a timeout when he was in no man’s land. This theoretically could be the tactic if Stoudemire had to check Hibbert, however, it would be on Stoudemire to be physical and force Hibbert to post up in places where he can’t go quickly into his hook shot…namely right on the block. But I think if you’re struggling to score, Stoudemire could help in that department, and maybe you give it a shot. And if you can get Stoudemire on the floor when Hibbert is on the bench, I think you go for it and hope that he can deal with Ian Mahinmi on the defensive end.

So as you’ve noted on Twitter, I’m actually doing something insane and road tripping to Indiana for Saturday’s Game 3. What should I be more worried about? A Game 3 Knicks loss, or briefly driving through West Virginia on the way?

Joe CaporosoCornfield jungle where dreams are made of! Home of $10 dollar playoff tickets! INDIANA! All I know about West Virginia is that Geno Smith played there and he is the future of my favorite football team…a future passed on from Vinny Testaverde to Chad Pennington to Brooks Bollinger to Kellen Clemens to Mark Sanchez to Greg McElroy and now Geno Smith. What jersey/t-shirt do you plan on wearing in the stands? Or you are going for full-blown annoying New Yorker or a humble guest on the road respectful of the history Rik Smits and Travis Best left behind?

It is hard for me to get a gauge on Game 3. I am still riding that irrational confidence high after how the Knicks stormed Indiana off the court last night. I could see the Pacers coming out fast at home but hopefully the Knicks weather the storm, keep their composure and the game is within 5 points either way heading into the fourth quarter. I don’t think we are seeing a blowout either way Saturday night and I like the Knicks late in a tight game better than the Pacers because of their veterans and since Carmelo will be the best player on the floor. I’d LOVE a chance to wrap this up in Game 5 at MSG but my better judgement says this is coming back 2-2. I don’t know if that loss is coming in Game 3 or Game 4 but it is coming. Is there any way this series avoids seven games?

Chris Celletti – My current Knicks jersey/t-shirt collection is this:

  1. Patrick Ewing, home – From sometime around 1995 probably. It barely fits. Could envoke both good and bad memories for Pacers fans. Too much negative “JUST DUNK IT YOU’RE 7 FEET WHY A FINGER ROLL WHYYYYYY” karma there, I think.
  2. Allan Houston, road – Fits even less than the Ewing jersey, somehow. The numbers are peeling, and it has that weird black stripe thingy down the side. Who the hell came up with the black and blue theme, by the way? Jesus, Knicks.
  3. Latrell Sprewell, home – This thing is in very good shape still. I often rock it at the beach – clearly to show off my GUNS. It’s possible I go with this, although I don’t want to come off as some bandwagoner who just started watching the Knicks again, thus digging out the only piece of Knicks clothing I had. This makes me wish I had some ridiculous jersey from the black hole years to prove that I’m really…
  4. Channing Frye, home – Wait! There it is! Yes, I indeed have a beautiful white, replica, Channing Frye Knicks jersey. It’s exceptionally white, to be honest, because I think I’ve worn it like twice. Going with this in Indy would prove that I am a sick, twisted and truly die hard Knicks fan. Plus, from the front, everyone would think it was a Carmelo Anthony jersey. I might actually be talking myself into this.
  5. Jeremy Lin, road jersey-tee – Not a chance. Purely used for cooking or sleeping.
  6. Amar’e Stoudemire, home – This is a safe choice. Current player, but there’s some sense of “Hey, this guy is a real fan because he had faith in Amar’e Stoudemire before Carmelo Anthony!” Nobody needs to know that I received this as a Christmas gift THIS season.

I will let you know what I choose to wear when I chronicle my trip later right here at TOK. As for the actual Game 3, I agree with you. I expect a knock down, drag out game that’s close in the final moments. Other than that, I’m not really sure. These teams are very even, and their strengths seem to cancel each others’ out.

All I know is the last time I made the trip for a road playoff game was to Boston for Game 1 in 2010, otherwise known as the “Kevin Garnett Illegal Screen-Trip on Toney Douglas/Ray Allen 3/Doc Rivers Embarrassing Mike D’Antoni” game. So if something similar happens, blame me, Knicks fans.

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