Today is game 3 of Knicks vs Pacers. I wouldn’t quite call it the rivalry renewed like some in the media have, but a key component to the series will be seeing playing time tonight, in A’mare Stoudemire. STAT has been missing during the Knicks final stretch of the season and the team has shown that they can pull it together without him. However, when Tyson Chandler was out with injury and the team was forced to play small, we saw the negative effects that happen with the lack of interior size. Small ball works for only so long. As we saw in Game 1 of the series, the Pacers bruised the Knicks in the paint, as Tyson Chandler, Kenyon Martin and Carmelo Anthony were in foul trouble. It seemed like the Knicks themselves, struggled to get to the foul line, and the offense was stagnant when Melo was on the bench. Which is why I believe that Melo and the Knicks will only benefit from a returning A’mare. A’mare averaged 15 points, 5 rebounds, just under a block a game, and 80% from the free throw line. In only 29 games we have seen flashes of his grit, and offensive moves that he learned and worked on during the off season. But think of how, against this team, that he fits perfectly. This will help the Knicks. Whenever Chandler is in foul trouble or Carmelo or JR are cold. We have the low post presence in Stoudemire, that can post up back to the basket, face the basket and knock down a shot, or attack the rim offensively, in a manner where Chandler and Martin are limited by the way, and draw fouls. This will not only relieve Melo and take some of the weight off of his shoulders, but also make the perimeter players surrounding Stoudemire valuable options, as we have seen that he is not afraid to pass. Felton and Prigioni will run the pick and roll fluidly. JR Smith will be better now that he has a running mate off the bench. The Knicks will be better on both sides of the ball, now that we have another body to drain energy and draw fouls on David West and Roy Hibbert. The Pacers are no easy task, and in playoff basketball you need all the size you can get. And I will take a healthy A’mare Stoudemire any day of the week. I predict that he will be a little rusty in his first game back in 3 months, however, I look for STAT to come out with an attitude that he has something to prove. SILENCE, to you haters. #Knickstape
The Knicks lost horribly in Game 6 at MSG, as we all know. There are a few keys that I observed that the team should go back to, which has produced previous victories.
- Get Melo hot early – When Carmelo Anthony shoots the ball early and often, whether make or miss, the offense becomes more free flowing. Carmelo can easily score by shooting, posting up or attacking the basket because most matchups favor him. And, when he warms up he draws double team which opens up perimeter shooting through the Knicks ball movement.
- Attack the basket. It is a beauty to see Felton and Shumpert getting layups and dunks. They seem to energize the team with timely baskets by attacking when long jumpers don’t go down. JR Smith tends to isolate dribble, behind the back, step back jumpshot, and shoot himself into a cold spell. Perhaps JR should attack the rim more to create high percentage baskets
- Attack Kevin Garnett. – The Knicks killed the Celtics when KG was in foul trouble. So revert back to that! Attack Garnett aggressively and continuously. Use his intensity against him. This will lead to either easy baskets, or easy free throws. Doc Rivers will be forced to switch KG which will open up the rim for easier baskets.
- Defensive Intensity Around the Perimeter – Boston hit way too many 3 point shots, even contested. You can’t be mad at contested 3’s but certainly at open shots. We need to use Shumpert/Prigioni/K-Mart to protect those long 3’s that killed us in Game 5. Also shutting down Boston transition offense. They are old, but Jason terry loves to shoot the transition 3. We must stop this
- Get Tyson Chandler and K-Mart more active. We all know these 2 guys are animals on defense, but when they are more involved offensively, the spirit of the team on both sides of the ball heightens to a greater intensity. Nothing will simmer the Boston crowd more than a K-Mart slam or a Chandler alley.
- Lastly, REBOUND, REBOUND, REBOUND. The Knicks must be relentless on crashing the boards and limiting the Boston offense to one shot only. Boston loves to grab a rebound and shoot a quick 3 after.