Pacers @ Knicks: MSG 12pm
The Knicks lost their composure on Friday night, pure and simple. Yes, the referees were inconsistent in a very physical battle down low, but the Knicks should have stayed focused. They could have come away with a victory and remained 7-0 if they stopped exaggerating after every call. After the San Antonio battle, they just didn’t have enough in the fourth to complete a comeback from being down 22 late in the third.
My first critique of Coach Woodson this year occurred early on, when he refused to play Kurt Thomas off the bench in the first quarter alongside Rasheed Wallace. As a matter of fact, I would have even started Big Kurt. It was evident early on that Carmelo Anthony was overpowered by Marc Gasol and he picked the Knicks apart. Despite that ridiculous mismatch, the Knicks were still in the game. Thomas could have stymied Gasol with size and smarts which he proved he was able to do later on in the third once he was finally inserted. It was also very evident that something is still wrong with Marcus Camby or he does not have his legs underneath him, as he is yet to play any meaningful minutes against big teams such as the Spurs or Grizzlies.
The Knicks get to travel home for a Sunday matinee against a long time rival from the 90’s, the Indiana Pacers. Frank Vogel’s team has struggled this season. They’ve had two key personnel losses, with Danny Granger to injury and to what I believe was a bad trade in sending Darren Collison to Dallas. They are 4-6 on the year including losses to surprising upstarts, the Bucks, Bobcats, and Timberwolves. They’re coming off a 20 point victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night.
Their starting lineup features David West, Paul George, Roy Hibbert upfront with George Hill and Lance Stephenson in the backcourt. They have Ian Mahinmi in the middle, with Sam Young, Tyler Hansbrough, DJ Augustin and Gerald Green rounding out their bench. George Hill at the point guard position brings size and athleticism, but he is averaging just assists 4.9 per game and over 2 turnovers. Roy Hibbert after an All Star campaign last season is averaging just 8.8 points per game and shooting only 38% from the field. Their leading scorer is David West at 15 ppg, but even he is only shooting 42.5% from the floor. At this point, Lance Stephenson is their best three point shooter at 45.8%, with small forward Paul George second, at a putrid 31.3%. They are struggling offensively. Indiana is the worst field goal shooting percentage team and the third lowest scoring team in the league at 89.3 points per game.
Defensively, they are statistically the best team in the NBA, giving up the fewest points allowed per game at 90.3 and holding teams to shooting just 40.7% from the field. They are also the second best rebounding team in the league pulling down 48.7 collectively.
The Knicks will have to play a fundamental and focused game against Indiana as the Pacers defense keeps them alive in every game. It is always a physical matchup when these two teams meet and I believe it is imperative for the Knicks to play a little more Kurt Thomas or Marcus Camby in this one. We’ll see if Coach Woodson adjusts, and I believe that he will. The Knicks should be 7-1 at the end of the day.