“Stinko de ‘Melo”
That play on Cinco de Mayo was the headline on the back of the New York Post on Monday morning after the Indiana Pacers beat the Knicks handily in Game 1. In Madison Square Garden. Anthony fell back on the effort card.
“You take out the X’s and O’s, they flat-out played harder than we did,’’ Anthony said. “They outplayed us and outworked us. Nothing else needs to be said about that.’’
That was the New York Daily News back page headline, getting to the heart of the matter for New York — the Pacers size and length, particularly Roy Hibbert defending the rim, is a real problem for the Knicks because it is not going away. “Knicks have no answer for Indy’s plus-sized lineup,” the Daily News adds.
The Knicks are already considering lineup changes to deal with the issue. New York has had success with small ball this season — Carmelo Anthony as a four playing on the wing more — because they had Tyson Chandler covering them in the paint. But David West bruised Anthony for 20 points while ‘Melo shot 10-of-28.
So New York is considering starting Raymond Felton at the one, Iman Shumpert at the two, Anthony the three, Kenyon Martin at the four and Tyson Chandler at the five spot. Pablo Prigioni would come off the bench. That possible new five-man lineup didn’t play a minute together in Game 1, nor did it play a minute together as a group all season long (according to NBA.com Knicks lineup data).
But the Knicks have to do something, particularly on the defensive end. Much like last series it’s not going to be easy to score on the Pacers — this was statistically the best defensive team in the NBA last season. They do it without a fancy system, they just have long athletes who play hard and contest everything. New York worked hard to get Anthony switched onto the lesser defender in West all game but he still struggled because West can play some defense, too.
The Knicks need a lineup that can both score and slow the Pacers, who got a balanced attack out of a variety of different looks. Which is a lot harder to defend, so it makes sense Woodson is looking at size.
He has to do something, because if the Pacers win another game on the road Tuesday night the hits the Knicks took from the New York tabloids on Monday will seem like a friendly pat on the back.