There it is! The second seed is locked up and the meaningful part of the regular season has ended. I am very tired and will leave much of the stuff (Holy shit, I initially typed "stough". I am VERY tired.) floating out there until tomorrow, but first: Many thanks to everyone who came to the meet-up today. We had a great game to watch. To begin with, Steve Novak hit a couple threes, which caused the whole bar-- regular ol' disinterested patrons included-- to erupt at the prospect of $3 drinks. Every single possession he was on the floor was incredibly tense and exciting.
Besides Novak's drink-winning success, this was a very solid, encouraging performance for the shorthanded Knicks. We did and still do have reason to fear Indiana in the playoffs, should that match-up ever emerge, but the Knicks prodded at some weakness today and perhaps gained some intelligence in the process. For once, New York's constant switching and doubling looked pretty awesome. They had nobody nearly big enough to guard Roy Hibbert (Solomon Jones included. Good lord, is that man unfit to play NBA basketball right now), so they fronted him, then sent a parade of guards to help and tickle him and hassle him into precarious passes. Hibbert wasn't alone in faltering under pressure from swarms of guards (and/or Carmelo Anthony). The Knicks jarred so many balls loose and smothered so, so many passing lanes. The box score shows TWENTY SIX Indiana turnovers feeding 33 New York points. They didn't score so much on the fast break, but they found good looks in the secondary break and just generally took so many more shots than the Pacers did (82 to 65 FGA). Nobody really shone offensively, with the exception of Chris Copeland, who hit his open shot and showed off that knack he has for resurrecting broken plays with a quick pick-and-pop or spot-up from anywhere on the floor. That's a major weapon for the second unit.
SPEAKING OF WEAPON, Mr. Novak set a pick and actually rolled to the basket for what momentarily seemed like it was going to be a dunk attempt. On instinct, my pants fell down and my teeth sprayed out of my mouth like bullets, but it ended up just being a missed layup. STILL. Big moment. (Other great moments I remember: 1. Pablo Prigioni making consecutive backcourt sneak-steals, the first of which set up a Melo three. 2. Melo getting pushed around in the post, then finally snatching an offensive rebound and tomahawking with a VENGEANCE. 3. Melo striding to the scorer's table when the lead was narrowing in the fourth despite still having some pain in his shoulder, then happily retreating to the bench once the Knicks forced a couple consecutive turnovers and steadied themselves. 4. That Solomon airball. Woof.)
That's all I can really think of. It's hard for me to remember the events of a game after having watched amidst so many friendly P&Ters. Also standing up. I can't stand up and process information at the same time. But yeah, in short: The Knicks forced tons of turnovers. They didn't produce so much offense against Indiana's top-notch D, but they did limit the Pacers to, like, never shooting the ball on the other end, and that was good.
And now the second seed and a first-round match-up with the Celtics is locked in. And while some guys have earned a week of rest, others may be ready to return. We'll talk about all that tomorrow and for the rest of this week. Good night!