Hello. The Knicks aren't the first game of the afternoon, which feels unusual. You can use this thread to talk about Grizzlies-Thunder. I'd also like to dump out the few remaining thoughts in my brain (see yesterday's thoughts here):
- I had assumed David West would guard Carmelo Anthony most of the time, but that was dumb and forgetful. It's gonna be Paul George. George is a better defender than Brandon Bass, but he's not as strong. I guess what I'm saying is George has a better chance than any Celtic of just staying in front of Melo, but if Melo consistently gets solid position, maybe he could bull George around in the post? Please?
- I worry about the Knicks' perimeter defense a bit. It looked amazing against the Celtics, but those were the Celtics. They had not one person who could dribble a basketball. George Hill and D.J. Augustin aren't of the terrifying Tony Parker/Rajon Rondo ilk, but they can penetrate a little. I guess the New York perimeter D isn't as worrisome with Pablo Prigioni as it was with Jason Kidd. It'll still be tested more than it was against Boston, which was pretty much the minimum amount of testing.
- The Pacers will be big and they will work hard to get offensive rebounds. I hope the Knicks don't take this as an invitation to play lots of big lineups themselves (though Amar'e Stoudemire's looming return changes that slightly), but I hope the guards help out on the glass a ton. There's reason to believe they will. Either way, Melo's going to need to be a solid, rebounding post-beast against David West, sore shoulder be damned. It's a lot to ask, but he's fared well in that position before.
- I know the Pacers stop threes better than anyone and have done so consistently against these Knicks, but like, what if they don't this time? Would be cool. That's a thought I had.
In summary of everything that's been said the last two days: The Pacers are like a leveled-up version of the Celtics. They're genuinely big, they defend even better, they actually rebound, and they can score in spurts. They're also a pretty bad road team, even more turnover-prone than the Celtics, thin on the bench, and just as capable of going hours without a basket. The Knicks survived a series with the Celtics despite hardly ever playing their best basketball-- and that covers both strategy and execution. They will undoubtedly need longer stretches of smart play and, failing that, folks to get unreasonably hot if they wish to score enough points against this Indiana defense. And they need to get on all that promptly, because today and Tuesday are must-wins. Move the ball, rotate defensively, win the turnover battle, and rebound some, and this game and series are highly winnable. Don't do those things and perish.
Yeah. But for now, Grizz-Thunder! It's been a highly Eastern Conference-y affair so far!