The Knicks needed to adjust in Game 4, and they did! Mike Woodson didn't adjust by pushing back, though. He kept pulling. His stripping of New York's identity had been subtle, pernicious through three games. He'd been creeping away from point guard tandems, small lineups, and shooters. In Game 4, he quit creeping and just ripped the Knicks' face off. Pablo Prigioni and his consistently positive contributions fell almost entirely out of the rotation. Big lineups-- include a starting group with Carmelo Anthony at the three and Kenyon Martin and Tyson Chandler up front-- ate up even more time. Woodson gave the usual minutes to Jason Kidd's doddering husk. He gave extra minutes to the shootersicle in J.R. Smith's jersey. Chris Copeland and Steve Novak stayed shelved until it was too late. The Knicks kept sending weak doubles and rotating late instead of trying their hand at, you know, regular defense.
I'm trying to see what Woodson saw going into this one. It's difficult. There is a marginal parallel universe in which all this stuff worked-- Kidd and Smith suddenly snapped out of historic slumps, Chandler and a bunch of mediocre rebounding "bigs" didn't keep surrendering second attempts, weak doubles didn't create open looks for Indiana, and jumpers fell all around. And yeah, that's a thing. Shots didn't fall, including some quality shots off useful movement. J.R. missed a dozen perfectly good looks, Melo and Felton were merely okay, and Iman Shumpert went cold. Missed shots were a problem and they may have been a problem even if Woodson turned back to small lineups and new shooters. But I'm watching Woodson mutter through a press conference right now and he's treating missed shots like they were the only thing. They were not. Or, if they were, it's his fault. The weird lineups and intentionally scrambled defense made it so the Knicks were either going to suddenly start draining jumpers they'd been missing for over a week against a brilliant defense...or they were going to lose. They lost. So yeah, like CharlieObrian commented, everyone choked, starting with that coach. Woodson doubled down on everything that had been failing and everything that had been failing doubled down on failing. That's quadrupling down, you guys.
And now it's 3-1. The Knicks could come back and at least make this a series. It has happened before. That would require nearly every trend from the last two games-- both deliberate and happenstance-- to reverse completely. If the Knicks are going to win another game in this series, every single thing will have to be opposite of what it has been. New York will have to make a 180-degree turnaround back to being...well, actually, pretty much what they were during the regular season, while Indiana will have to cease being a defensive bear trap and the far superior team overall. It's pretty hard to envision, but I suppose crazier things have happened.