Pacers defense has taken away the Knicks’ best weapon
The 3-point shot. The old saying goes: “Live by the three, die by the three.” Some old school folks dislike the three altogether.
The New York Knicks are the most prolific 3-point shooting team in NBA history. They attempted 2,371 during the regular season and connected on 37.6 percent of them (891). But in these playoffs, specifically against the Pacers, their deep shots have gone awry.
In the Pacers’ 82-71 win on Saturday, they held the Knicks to just 11 attempts from long-range, with three dropping — both season-lows. The Pacers connected on 10 3-point field goals, thus outscoring the Knicks 30-9 from outside.
“11 threes is not our M.O.,” said Carmelo Anthony, this season’s scoring champion. “We usually shoot double that. They are taking away the three-ball from us. Our pick-and-roll game, they are staying on us with the guys on the perimeter at the three and they are forcing the two guy into pick and roll to beat them.”
The Knicks have attempted 20 or fewer threes in just seven of 91 games this season, and three of the seven were against the Pacers (via NBA.com). So far this series, the Knicks are just 20-of-60 (33.3 percent) from 3-point land.
Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said after practice on Sunday morning that his team is in an offensive rut.
“With our team, I never thought we couldn’t score 82 points. We just got to get better offensively.”
The Pacers, who boast the league’s best field goal percentage defense, are a big reason why. They stay with their man on defense, help only when necessary and have defended the pick-and-roll incredibly well. And on those screens, the Pacers are giving the Knicks just enough room to feel comfortable taking the jumper, though they are right there with a hand in the face. The Knicks aren’t hitting and Woodson, who did credit the Pacers, said their pace has a lot to do with it.
“We’re playing too slow,” he said.
Knicks center Tyson Chandler would like to see his team let the game come to them and not force shots individually.
“I think we need to do a better job of allowing the game to dictate who takes the shots, and not the individuals,” said Chandler, the first time All-Star. “I’m not saying that anyone is doing it maliciously. I think it’s more so you get a situation where you want to take over the game or you want to make a big shot [but] you have to just stick to the game plan. Good teams win basketball games.”
Instead, they Knicks played to the Pacers’ hand and did exactly what they wanted them to do.
“We wanted to play good, solid, Indiana defense and that’s what we did,” George Hill said.
With a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series which continues Tuesday night, the Pacers took Sunday off. The Knicks, however, chose to talk things over and get shots up. They understand how critical Game 4 has become.
“We’re going to need everybody playing Tuesday night on high cylinders because we don’t want to go back home down 3-1,” said Woodson. “That would a tough climb so Tuesday’s game is very, very important.”
Knicks Injury Update
J.R. Smith, who had a 102 degree temperature Saturday but still managed to play 25 minutes, missed practice. Kenyon Martin may have come down with the same illness so both of them stayed back at the hotel Sunday to prevent it from spreading.