It has ended. It was the best year in so very many years-- monumental, yet still thoroughly Knicks. My brain is aswirl with thoughts of a larger scope, but let me just pour some game-specific things out then go stew for the rest of the night. This won't be a proper recap. I don't have it in me.
- Mike Woodson made boners. A return to heavy post-trapping, especially in the first half, didn't look good. (To his credit, it looked better when the Pacers just started clanking threes late in the game, but that was still scary). A second quarter full of Amar'e Stoudemire and Jason Kidd and nearly devoid of Pablo Prigioni didn't look good. Late-game devotion to J.R. Smith, even through some massive defensive break-downs, didn't look good. Poor use of timeouts and fouls during desperate late-game moments didn't look good. There's more. It's most of the same stuff we saw all series, and I think I have more to say about all this, but for now: Woodson made boners.
- The Knicks themselves made some boners. They played some of the worst stretches of transition defense we've seen all year against an especially break-y bunch of Pacers. They punished themselves with their own flopping and whining. J.R. Smith kept right on missing his favorite shots and played awful, awful ball-watching defense. Raymond Felton completely disappeared in a puff of bricked floater. He disappeared so hard that I forgot he disappeared until I looked back at the box score. Tyson Chandler remained a blanched, lumbering husk of himself (I really think this could prove true. I almost hope it.) and Kenyon Martin spazzed as only Kenyon Martin can spaz.
- Iman Shumpert, though. This was one of his worst defensive games, but I feel nothing but amorous feelings for the kid after that insane third-quarter outburst from downtown. We've got more, broader Shump things to discuss, but godDAMN am I feeling good about him after these playoffs.
- Carmelo Anthony had a seriously rough fourth quarter. He sat a few minutes after turning his ankle, then returned to heavy usage as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, pretty consistently failing in that role no matter his approach. This was a great game for him, though. He kept the Knicks alive in the first half, then, along with Shumpert, fished them out of the gaping maw of doom in the third quarter. This was the first game all series in which Melo got to cook soup.
- The Knicks got annihilated on the defensive glass, especially in the first half. They made that up somewhat by retrieving a lot of their own misses. The bigger issue, in retrospect, was that the Pacers committed just a single turnover in the second half after eight in the first. These Knicks can't (oh jeez...couldn't?) afford to let a team get that many shots up. This is where George Hill returning mattered a whole bunch. The Pacers torched New York's full-court traps and just generally handled pressure and occasional broken plays with poise. The Knicks wasted a lot of solid defensive possessions and even a few loose balls because the Pacers kept their shit together and, often, cut backdoor at the last second.
- In retrospect, I feel like that Roy Hibbert block on what would have otherwise been a seismic Melo baseline dunk ended the Knicks' run/the game/the series/the season/my life. A matter of millimeters, that. It was one of the best blocks I've ever seen.
- The Knicks committed way more fouls than the Pacers did. Some of them were bad calls. Many of them were instances in which the Knicks lagged in transition and/or allowed mismatches by doubling the post or getting caught on screens, then got caught off balance.
- We finally saw some truly microscopic lineups, but Mike Woodson's hand was forced into 'em.
- Good work, Pacers. Congratulations, Indy Cornrows.
And with all that, we segue into a long offseason of retrospective analysis, discussion of the future, and summertime silliness. P&T won't go anywhere. Over the next few weeks, we'll have open playoff threads intermingled with plenty of reflection on the season. Soon enough, we'll move to draft stuff. Then there's free agency, Summer League, and whatever else this summer has to offer. I hope you'll stick around.
It was a wonderful season, and I'm trying not to forget that after a sour final chapter. I am glad and thankful to have shared it with all of you. Have a good night. Tomorrow: the offseason.