The Knicks have already defeated the Indiana Pacers twice in the Mikey Woodson era. However, those two victories came while the Knicks still had the services of Jeremy Lin and Amar’e Stoudemire. Obviously they’ll be without those two players tonight so Carmelo Anthony must be the man. Anthony has looked like a man reincarnated over the past four games, averaging 27 points on 48% shooting. Offensively, the Knicks must get contributions from more players in order to pick up the slack created by the absences of Lin and Stoudemire. The Pacers will be giving their full effort tonight. They hate New York and they’re not going to be happy going 0-3 against the Knicks this season. It should be a blood bath tonight.
Here’s what to watch for:
- These numbers, compiled by NBA.com’s John Schuhmann, show that the Knicks are a better team without Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire on the floor together. Notice the difference in both offensive and defensive ratings. These statistics suggest that the Knicks are far better without Amar’e Stoudemire on the floor. Why do I point this out? Because it will be interesting to see how the Knicks perform tonight against another good team. They defeated Indiana twice with Stoudemire and Anthony, as well as Lin, but I want to see how the Knicks perform against Indiana with just Anthony. , I know there aren’t a lot of statistics to back me up, but I still believe this team is best with both Stoudemire and Anthony. These stats above don’t indicate that, but my train of thought is this: what makes New York dangerous is the ability to have 2 dominant scorers. Stoudemire has not been himself this season due to health, but in theory he should be an elite scorer. Without Stoudemire, and given the Knicks lack of consistent perimeter shooting, I believe teams would be quite intelligent to key on Anthony. The Knicks cannot kill you from downtown consistently, so if you were to deny Anthony from dominating then the Knick offense would be in trouble. I understand the defense is better, but in the playoffs you must score in the half court. The defense was top 10 with Stoudemire all year. These last 13 games, the Knicks play a gauntlet schedule. They play Indiana, Orlando, Chicago twice, the Clippers, Miami and Boston. I want to see, starting tonight, how Schuhmann’s statistics hold up when the Knicks play better competition.
- Melo vs Danny Granger. In New York’s two prior wins over Indiana, Danny Granger was putridly bad. Carmelo Anthony wasn’t great, but he was better than Granger. Tonight, how these two play versus each other is the key matchup in the game. If Granger gets hot offensively, Indiana is a completely different team. When Granger sucks, as he did in the two Knick victories, Indiana’s offense is going to struggle. Anthony has been much better offensively and I expect him to continue that tonight. The challenge for the Melo fellow tonight is on the defensive end. Not that Granger kills him, but Anthony cannot led Granger get going tonight. I think Melo can and will do a good job on Granger tonight, but if doesn’t the Knicks will be in for a long night.
- Tyson Chandler versus Roy Hibbert is absolutely awesome to watch. In the first Knicks-Pacers matchup, Tyson Chandler took Roy Hibbert’s manhood away from him. In the second Knicks-Pacers matchup, Hibbert dominated Chandler with 24 points and 9 rebounds. Without Stoudemire and Lin to perform on offense, the Knicks have to bear down defensively tonight. Chandler has to dominate Hibbert, or at least contain Hibbert, in order for the Knicks to win. I know the Knicks won the last matchup, but if Hibbert has 24 and 12, I think the Knicks will be in trouble. C’mon Tyson!
- Which JR Smith do we get tonight? Do we get the JR Smith who was 1/10 shooting from downtown against Milwaukee, or do we get the JR Smith that scored 20 points against Cleveland on Saturday. Without STAT and Lin, sorry for the broken record-esq writing style, the Knicks need Smith to be consistent. If he can give them 15-20 points every night, the offense will be in good shape. Apart from discount double Steve, the Knicks don’t have a lot of outside shooting. If Earl can start consistently shooting 3’s, the Knick offense will obviously be far better off. Smith gives them an athletic, scoring dimension off the bench that most teams don’t have. If he starts playing like he can, the Knicks will be in really good shape.
- MAKE A DAMN SHOT, LANDRY!! Mr. Fields, the Knicks starting shooting guard, shot 12.5% from downtown in March. That is not a typo. He shot only 2/16 from downtown for the entire month. Need I say any more?