Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Knicks at Indiana Pacers - What To Watch For

Tonight at 7 the Knicks will be back in action when they take on the Indiana Pacers in the Bankers Life Fieldhouse, which evidently is no longer than Conseco Fieldhouse. The Knicks come in after two days off following a victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday and a loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday. Similarly, the Pacers went 1-1 with a loss to the Spurs on Saturday and a victory over the Rockets on Sunday.

The last time these two teams met, Mike Woodson was still the new coach of the Knicks and the lineup was much different. The Knicks defeated the Pacers in back-to-back games in a home-and-home sweep. However, at that time, Jeremy Lin and Amar'e Stoudemire were both in the lineup as was Jared Jeffries, Baron Davis missed the second game, and guys like Josh Harrellson and Toney Douglas were not receiving minutes. This time, the Knicks' lineup will look much different.

Take the jump for some notes on what to watch for tonight!

  • Indiana probably gets the better of most of the matchups tonight. Darren Collison is a speedy little waterbug and should have no problems getting what he wants against Baron Davis. Iman Shumpert, while terrific on defense, gives up size to the athletic Paul George. Landry Fields matches up well with Danny Granger, however Granger has been hot lately, dropping 32 points on Houston the other night. Tyson Chandler and Roy Hibbert match up well, but this leads me to a matchup that could make or break the game for the Knicks....
  •  Since Amar'e Stoudemire went out with his back injury, Carmelo Anthony has been starting at the PF position. Tonight that will pit him against the bigger, stronger, post-oriented David West. In the last games, West was (surprisingly) neutralized by Amar'e Stoudemire. However, he could potentially bully Anthony in the paint and really do some damage on the boards. On the flip side though, Anthony can take David West off the dribble anytime he wants to, and if he plays on the perimeter, it would open the paint up for other Knicks, should they wish to score in there. If Anthony is getting beat up by West, look for Woodson to switch Melo back to the 3 and put in Josh Harrellson at the 4.

  •  With Baron Davis and Iman Shumpert now starting in the backcourt together, the Knicks bench is somewhat shallow. Extra weight is now placed on the shoulders of J.R. Smith and Steve Novak to provide offense off the bench. Contributions from Josh Harrellson and Toney Douglas would certainly be welcome. 

  • As has been mentioned on here, the Knicks now rank 4th in defensive efficiency. With their offense likely to sputter without Lin, the Knicks may have to rely on their defense to keep them in games and then grind it out on offense with the skill of isolation players like Anthony, Smith, and Davis and Shumpert to some extent. This style worked against Cleveland the other night, and it may be the type of games we see the Knicks play for the rest of the season.This may not be the most eye-pleasing basketball, but it's something the best teams in the league all utilize, so the Knicks shouldn't shy away from it.

That's all I have for you, dumplings today. Remember, gametime is at 7 tonight (for some reason they prefer to watch games earlier in the central states). Don't throw any radios into bathtubs tonight, we need to watch the Knicks win!

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