OK, guys, check out this here chart:
Here are the 9 games the Knicks have played with the Pacers this year. The Knicks have won 4 and lost 5. Much has been made of the rebounding battle in these games and, you know me, I love rebounding! And you can see by this chart that the Pacers have generally outrebounded the Knicks - particularly in the last 7 games they've played. The Knicks have won 2 and lost 4 of the 6 games in which they've been outrebounded. Meanwhile the Knicks have won 2 and lost 1 of the games in which they've outrebounded the Pacers. Rebounding matters between these two teams, but winning the rebounding battle does not mean winning the game necessarily.
The Knicks won game 5, and though the Pacers did have the edge in offensive rebounding percentage, the difference wasn't as stark as in most of the games in this series. The Pacers believe they played like pussies, and they are probably talking about not dominating the boards as they usually do. However, if you look at it, if the Pacers had rebounded 3 or 4 more of their misses, they would have reached their normal 15 percent rebound dominance level. That would have given them 3 or 4 more possessions and probably 3 or 4 more points.
So let's reiterate that point. The Pacers usual rebound dominance would have got them about 3 or 4 more points.
Meanwhile… let's look at turnovers. In the Knicks 4 wins, they have had a turnover advantage of 9 or more. Meanwhile in the 5 losses, the Knicks turnover differential has been +6 or less.
The bottom line is that the Knicks' turnover dominance is more directly tied to the outcome than any rebounding advantage the Pacers have been able to achieve. We've been able to out-turnover them by 9 or more in 4 of these games. They have never been able to out o-bound us by 9.
Vogel and the Pacers seem to believe that George Hill's absence shouldn't affect their ability to beat the Knicks. I think they are mistaken. Having to have Augustine and non-point guards handle the ball for them is a recipe for turnovers. No doubt Vogel will remind his players that they should win the game if they get their normal share of o-bounds and limit the turnover differential to under 6. The boards thing I expect them to correct. But I think there's two ways the Knicks can win game 6. 1. They can once again force turnovers despite the Pacers best efforts to the contrary (they must also remember to not turn over the ball themselves) and 2. They can bust out with a temporary offensive explosion by doing even more to get Hibbert out of the paint. They've only done that for one quarter this series, but I think it's possible they can do it again.
So yes, the Pacers could have won game 5 if they simply had not turned the ball over quite as much. But can they do that? The data says maybe they will and maybe they won’t. If Hill can't play, that tips the scales toward them not limiting the turnover differential.
Even so, if the Knicks can generate an offensive outburst, say a 25-5 run or something, that will probably be enough to win the game against a Hill-less Indiana team scared to turn the ball over. And I think with less Kidd, more Prig, and more Cope, and the hope of a J.R. breakout, they are more likely to do that. If Hill can play, it's harder. But I do think the Knicks can do this. And if the Pacers don't respect the Knicks ability to do this, they gonna get all flustered if we start to do this.
The Pacers' attitude right now kind of reminds me of the Knicks after game 4 with the Celtics. They were mad at themselves, kind of felt like they blew it against an inferior team, almost embarrassed to have lost, still confident they'd destroy the Celtics in game 5. But they didn't respect the Celtics enough and got blitzed in game 5.. Luckily we were able to restore order in game 6… but the Knicks were clearly the better team than the Rondo-less Celtics. Are the Pacers clearly a superior team to the Knicks? If they think so, they could be in for a rude awakening.
Now… don't get cocky, Knicks. This ain't gonna be easy.