Knicks Defense is the Difference
By: Jinx Grand (@JGSportsTalk)
The New York Knicks absolutely demolished the Indiana Pacers, 105-79, in last night’s Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. We can point to Pablo Prigioni’s 10 points and 2-2 shooting from behind the arc, we can point to Iman Shumpert’s 7-11 shooting, his 15 points and his spectacular dunk, we can point to Raymond Felton’s 5-9 shooting and 14 points, we can do all of that. But, the bottom line from last night is simple: Carmelo Anthony was hitting his shots, and the Knicks defense was in absolute lockdown mode.
Even though ‘Melo hit 50% of his shots and finished with 32 points, it was the Knicks defense that impressed me more than anything. The Knicks ‘D’ turned it up when it mattered most, the fourth quarter, limiting the Pacers to only 13 points. In fact, the Pacers didn’t score a field goal in the fourth until Orlando Johnson hit a three pointer for the Pacers with 3:09 left in the quarter.
The Knicks were very active in the passing lanes and on the ball, forcing 21 turnovers and recording an impressive 11 steals. One third of those turnovers were caused by Paul George. The Knicks allowed double-digit points to David West, Paul George and George Hill, but nobody else on the Pacers’ roster finished above 10 points. Every single Pacers player finished with a minus in the +/- department – except Sam Young, who finished even.
New York also forced D.J. Augistin into a non-productive evening. Augistin is the Pacers’ point guard that scored 16 points (with four made three pointers) on the Knicks in Game One. He finished with four points and no three pointers attempted.
Lance Stephenson is another guy that had a positive evening in Game One against the Knicks; Stephenson finished with 11 points and 11 defensive rebounds (13 total). Game Two was not as upbeat for Lance, as he finished with 9 points and only 4 rebounds.
The Knicks paint defense also tightened up in the fourth quarter. Per ESPN Stats and Info: Through 3 quarters, the Pacers were finding success near the basket, going 17-of-22 inside 5 feet. But in the 4th quarter, the Pacers were 0-of-1 from that distance. Indiana went away from taking advantage of its size, which had worked well in Game 1, when David West and Roy Hibbert combined for 8-of-11 inside 5 feet.
Yeah, the Knicks offense was amazing in Game two. But let’s not diminish the Knicks effort on defense, either.