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Preview: Knicks can shoot their way out of 2-1 hole to Pacers

May 14, 2013, 7:04 PM EDT

Knicks forward Anthony gets past Indiana Pacers forward George during the second half of an NBA Eastern Conference second round playoff basketball game in Indianapolis

The Knicks have fundamental problems against the Pacers, primarily rebounding. It’s virtually impossible for New York to re-invent itself this deep into the playoffs, and consequently, a big and physical Indiana team will likely continue holding an advantage on the glass. But that doesn’t mean the Knicks are doomed, and there’s a simple way form them to overcome their deficiency:

Make shots.

More specifically, make 2-point shots.

The Knicks bombed their way to the NBA’s third-best regular-season offense on the strength of their 3-point shooting. New York scored 33 percent of its points on 3-pointers, the league’s top mark.

In Game 3, the Knicks’ biggest problem 3-point problem was generating attempts. The Pacers don’t help much on defense, so New York’s shooters couldn’t get open, and the Knicks shot just 3-for-11 from beyond the arc. That was the first time this season they didn’t take at least 18 3-pointers.

The solution might be more mid-range shots.

NBA teams have mostly realized shots at the rim and 3-pointers are more efficient than any other area of the court. So, teams are tilting their defenses to cover shots at the rim and 3-pointers. At some point, teams will go so far with that defensive approach that they vacate the area between the paint and arc, making mid-range shots efficient. We’re not there yet league-wide – and probably not even close – but maybe the Knicks have reached that point in this series. The Pacers have just defended 3-pointers and shots at the rim so well.

It also helps the Knicks have a couple players comfortable in the mid-range, Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith. No team had two players with as many mid-range makes as Melo and Smith.

Of course, there’s a difference between isolation mid-range shots and mid-range shots that come from pick-and-rolls and good ball movement, and New York should look for the latter.

The Knicks turned the ball over least in the NBA during the regular season, and they’re turning it over even less against the Pacers. That’s partially because Indiana focuses on causing misses and rebounding them rather than forcing turnovers, but it’s also because New York hasn’t taken enough strategic risks in moving the ball.

If the Knicks pass well and make their mid-range shots, maybe Roy Hibbert will have to pay a little more attention outside the paint on pick-and-rolls. That could open lobs for Tyson Chandler, putbacks for Kenyon Martin and more.

But it all starts with making shots.

  1. erckle31 - May 14, 2013 at 8:04 PM

    …but they can’t.

  2. lsoreal - May 14, 2013 at 8:09 PM

    Knicks need offense, yet Kidd is playing and Copeland isn’t. If you follow the Knicks you should know that is unacceptable. Woodson can not even draw one play to get one of the best shooters (Novak) in the game.

  3. melkipershero - May 14, 2013 at 8:27 PM

    Why isnt a bigger deal being made of Melo’s termination option next year? I know he loves NY but if they end up losing this year and have another disappointing finish next year I could see him walking.

    • eventhorizon04 - May 14, 2013 at 10:25 PM

      Doubt it.

      First, the Knicks (despite struggling this series) are likely a top-4 team in the East for the immediate future. The Heat and the Pacers should be good for years for come, and the Bulls should come back strong next year, but the competition is weaker in the East than the West, so the Knicks should be a regular participant in the second round of the playoffs at least for the immediate future. A team trying to lure Melo away would require a good roster that would be as competitive – if not more so – than the Knicks currently are since Melo’s main goal is to win at least 1 ring at this point.

      Second, Melo really does love being in NYC. He very much wants to be in a big media market, and there are none bigger than NYC. So even if Melo does opt out, very few teams have even a somewhat realistic shot of luring him away based on media market size. I don’t think he’d be happy in Dallas, for example, despite it not being a “small” city since even good-sized cities look small compared to NYC.

      So a new team hoping to convince Melo to leave NYK would have to have
      1. A pretty good roster, likely with 1 superstar already,
      2. Ample cap room in 2014 to offer Melo a max contract
      3. And be located in a large media market comparable to NYC.

      The Lakers are the most likely team that I think would have a shot since they’d have Dwight, but I don’t know if Dwight would want to play with a guy like Melo. Dwight has made it clear he’s not happy when other players limit his touches on offense, and I don’t think he’d be happy if the Lakers replaced Kobe with Melo. Maybe the Bulls? I can’t think of any other realistic players.

  4. lsoreal - May 14, 2013 at 9:03 PM

    Copeland comes in two seconds and hits a three. What does Woodson do? Pull him. While Kidd is still playing. Woodson has been a bigger reason why the Knicks are losing, then JR Smith. Woodson has shown no ability to adapt. Awful coaching performance.

    • eventhorizon04 - May 14, 2013 at 10:11 PM

      I can name 3 Knicks players who are playing limited minutes but should be getting far more time than Kidd – Prigioni, Novak, and Copeland. They all bring more to the table than Kidd at this point – especially Prigioni.

  5. logisticalvoices - May 14, 2013 at 9:32 PM

    The real question is: will Spike Lee video bomb Reggie Miller court side again tonight? If he makes a choke sign, I’ll turn into a Knicks fan for life.

  6. paulhargis53 - May 14, 2013 at 9:42 PM

    Knicks are toast. They struggled against a hobbled Crocs yea. playing without their best player in Rondo. This isn’t a suprise, contrary to the loudmouth Knicks fans.

    Turn out the lights……the party’s ov-we.

  7. paulhargis53 - May 14, 2013 at 9:43 PM

    * ov-er

  8. goodfellas17 - May 14, 2013 at 9:45 PM

    Where did all the Knicks fans go with their “it’s the refs fault?”

  9. leahcima1 - May 14, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    The Knicks are two guys and three traffic cones in place. Smith and Anthony took 46 shots, made 16 and had ONE assist. One lousy assist. I wonder if Smith and Anthony even know the names of the other guys on the team.

  10. rod2771 - May 14, 2013 at 9:56 PM

    The mighty Knicks on the brink. If only that mean old David Stern would favor them.

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