After the New York Knicks inspiring (?) Game 5 victory over the Indiana Pacers, we decided at TOK to bring the optimism for tomorrow night by gathering some of the greatest Knicks minds in the blogosphere for a quick Friday roundtable.
Give one reason for optimism on the Knicks taking Game 6 in Indiana
Moke Hamilton, SNY TV/Sheridan Hoops - Two-fold. Without George Hill, the Pacers pick-and-roll defense suffers mightily and they miss another “take the best shot available” shot-maker in their halfcourt sets. Even if he is available on Saturday (which is a long shot, given the NBA’s new concussion policy), he will probably be limited.
Also, Chris Copeland. Like he did in Game 5, If he can give the Knicks another highly efficient 13 points in Game 6, they will have a good shot of forcing a Game 7, so long as Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith can make 40 percent of their combined attempts.
The dirty little secret here: the Knicks can play an extremely mediocre offensive game and still win. It’s hustling and rebounding, and in Game 5, with their backs against the wall, they found something.
Joe Caporoso, Turn On The Knicks - The absence of George Hill should be expected and is a nice boost to the Knicks chances. Indiana’s offense struggles enough to score points and without Hill they are led by a Guard trio of DJ Augustin, Lance Stephenson (who could be limited tomorrow with a ankle/leg injury) and Gerald Green. Their bench also gets that much shorter (only 10 points in Game 5) without Hill. The Knicks got away with another genrally sluggish offensive performance on Thursday and mostly won due to 19 turnovers and 57% free throw shooting from the Pacers.
At some point, as I think all of us reiterate here, the jump shots have to start falling and Carmelo and/or JR will put together an efficient night from the field. Mike Woodson took a step in the right direction with his lineup last night and let’s hope Saturday sees even more Pablo Prigioni and Chris Copeland, with even less (if any) Jason Kidd and Amare Stoudemire.
This is a young Pacers team who has been tough at home but could be a little tight from letting the Knicks hang around another game. If the Knicks can jump out to an early lead, it will suck the energy out of the building and the Pacers will get that much tighter.
Seth Rosenthal, Posting and Toasting - I guess it’s promising that New York has now beaten Indiana twice with sub-par performances, but the main source of (sick) optimism is the fact that George Hill might still be hurt. And…uh…maybe those open jumpers will start falling at some point!
Chris Celletti, Turn On The Knicks - If George Hill remains out, that helps a lot because he’s such an effective two-way player that presents match up problems on both ends. Indiana’s pick-and-roll defense was relatively lost without him last night. Even if Hill suits up though, I’m optimistic in that there are still shots the Knicks are leaving out on the floor. Despite the win in Game 5, the Knicks still struggled to shoot. While Indiana’s defense is great, there were large periods of Game 5 in which the Knicks merely clanked open jump shots. If those start going down, the Knicks can keep winning. I’m a big believer in being due, and I hope that I’m right in saying that the Knicks are simply due to have a big shooting night. They’re also due to win in Indiana, and Indiana is due to lose a home game. At some point, these things happen, right?
Matt Falkenbury, The Knicks Blog - The effort and energy that seemed to go missing in games three and four are now back for the Knicks after the win in game five. They kept the rebounding edge for Indiana to a minimum and with Hill out, they won the turnover battle 19-10. If they can do those things again then they should be able to get the win in game six. Indiana has not shot better than 41% in the last three games and have lived off of second chance opportunities. If you cut those off like the Knicks did in their two wins, then the chances of winning go up. It won’t be easy, but they have the formula which gives me my optimism that they can win and if they execute it, then they will win and head back to New York for Game 7.