One man does not win or lose an NBA playoff series.
But J.R. Smith’s shooting woes — 7-of-22 in the Knicks Game 4 loss Tuesday night — are symptomatic of the Knicks problems in this series. Indiana is a good defensive team that has taken away the Knicks first option (Carmelo Anthony is not efficent right now) and nobody else is stepping up to help him. Not Iman Shumpert (0-for-6 Tuesday), not Tyson Chandler or Kenyon Martin inside, and Jason Kidd last made a field gold during the Nixon administration (actually it’s been just three weeks, but still).
But J.R. Smith is the poster child for the Knicks shooting woes, and after the Game 4 loss Smith told the New York Post he is to blame for the Knicks shooting woes.
“I take the blame for this whole series,” Smith said. “I’ve been letting my teammates down, I’ve been letting my coaches down, and it doesn’t feel good.”
In this series Smith is 18-of-64 (28.1 percent) and 6-of-26 from three. Ouch.
Credit the Pacers defense for some of this — they are long and physical and you don’t get easy looks against them. They have taken away the easy first and second options out of the Knicks offensive sets. During the regular season when the Knicks offense broke down Anthony or Smith could create their own look in isolation and bail the offense out. Go isolation against the Pacers and they destroy you.
But the Knicks also moved the ball strong to weak so much better in the season, especially during their win streak they shared the rock beautiffuly. But now even when Pablo Prigioni does that now, the shot gets missed.
And that’s not all on Smith. He’s part of a larger problem.