No Easy Answers For Knicks

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NEW YORK – The politicking has begun.

Just one game into Knicks-Pacers, we’re already hearing some talk that may be meant to influence the officiating. Raymond Felton went there after his team lost Game 1 on Sunday, saying that Indiana was doing more than just playing tough defense.

“They’re being really physical with ‘Melo,” Felton said after the game. “They’re banging him, hitting him, they’re going at his [injured left] shoulder. It’s one of those things that goes on in a series. He’ll get those calls.”

Carmelo Anthony drew seven fouls in Game 1, but also shot a brutal 3-for-13 in the paint, as Roy Hibbert and company contested his drives to the basket. He (and the rest of New York) grew visibly frustrated as the game wore on.

“I guess I’ve got to earn my respect,” Anthony said Monday. “It gets frustrating sometimes out there, but I try not to let that negativity sink in.”

The Knicks should hope so, because the Pacers aren’t going to stop being a physical team. They’re the bigger and stronger squad in this series, especially when New York plays small with Anthony at power forward. And on Monday, Indiana was dismissing any ideas of intentional contact.

“We’re just playing ball, man,” Pacers forward David West said. “I thought Roy did a great job with his straight-ups. We take the brunt of the contact most possessions. I thought we were doing a good job of playing our style of defense.”

Pacers coach Frank Vogel may have been doing his own politicking when he made it clear that his team does its best to defend the rim without fouling.

Paint shooting, 2013 playoffs
Team FGM FGA FG% %FGA
L.A. Lakers 89 140 63.6% 27.2%
Miami 108 179 60.3% 38.6%
Golden State 150 253 59.3% 28.1%
L.A. Clippers 128 229 55.9% 36.7%
San Antonio 106 190 55.8% 29.5%
Brooklyn 159 286 55.6% 34.6%
Indiana 144 261 55.2% 33.4%
Memphis 149 272 54.8% 34.9%
Oklahoma City 129 236 54.7% 27.8%
Houston 120 229 52.4% 38.3%
Chicago 165 316 52.2% 36.5%
Boston 88 169 52.1% 29.0%
Milwaukee 77 149 51.7% 35.8%
Atlanta 107 208 51.4% 30.0%
Denver 142 277 51.3% 37.1%
New York 110 224 49.1% 31.1%
Total 1,971 3,618 54.5% 33.1%

%FGA = Percent of total FGA

“Part of the plan with these guys is do not put them to the free throw line,” Vogel said. “We’ve got to have discipline to be legal with our body position and earn no-calls. That’s a major point of emphasis to our defensive attack.”

The Pacers, of course, had the No. 1 defense in the league this season. They were No. 1 in defending both the 3-point line and the restricted area. And they ranked ninth in opponent free throw rate, allowing their opponents to attempt just 26 free throws per 100 field goal attempts. The Knicks attempted 23 free throws and 81 field goals in Game 1. That’s 28 per 100, a higher rate than they attempted in the first round against Boston (23 per 100).

The Knicks’ offense was struggling well before Sunday. They scored less than a point per possession against the Celtics and are the only team shooting less than 50 percent from the paint in the playoffs.

If you were to give a Knick a single vote for postseason MVP, it would go to Felton, not Anthony. The point guard has clearly been New York’s best and most consistent player in these playoffs, averaging 17.3 points and 5.0 assists, while shooting 49 percent. He has attacked both the Boston and Indiana defenses on the pick-and-roll, getting to the rim when the opening is there, and pulling up for jumpers and floaters when opposing big man stays back to protect the rim.

While Anthony and J.R. Smith have combined to shoot 47-for-152 (31 percent) over the last four games, Felton has shot 57 percent from the paint and 48 percent from mid-range in the postseason. And Vogel knows that Felton with the ball can be a dangerous situation for his defense.

“They got a lot of stuff off their middle pick-and-rolls,” the coach said Monday. “So we’ve got to be prepared for a lot of adjustments and some Plan Bs.”

But the Pacers will be fine if Felton continues to be the only guy getting points out those pick-and-rolls. He scored 18 points on 8-for-12 shooting on Sunday, but totaled just three assists. While Hibbert was forced to choose between contesting Felton’s floaters or protecting the rim and preventing the lob, he has the length to be a threat to both Felton and the rolling big man (Tyson Chandler or Kenyon Martin).

Hibbert’s rim protection and Paul George‘s ability to defend Anthony one-on-one allows the Pacers’ other defenders to stay at home on the Knicks’ shooters.

“We know that, for them, it’s all about the 3-point shot,” West said. “We’ve got the luxury of having Paul, who can guard his guy straight up. So we don’t have to help as much. We know we’re going to help at the rim. But not allowing them angles to the basket prevents us from over-helping and overextending our defense.”

The Knicks shot just 7-for-19 from 3-point range in Game 1 and are now 5-12 when they hit less than eight threes in a game. They’re 24-3, meanwhile, when Felton dishes out at least seven assists.

Now, the Knicks had a decent offensive game on Sunday, scoring 95 points on 90 possessions. But that wasn’t good enough to make up for their shaky defense.

In order to even this series in Game 2 on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET, TNT), New York will have to improve on one end of the floor or the other. Breaking through against the No. 1 defense in the league will be easier said than done.

15 Comments

  1. @ eris & booooogie-
    First off- the ’08 finals-My Celts even though hit a lot of jumpers, were attacking the paint @ least 50% of the time-not to say that the Celts then or now don’t get some bad foul calls but very few & far & in between-Celtics then & now get all of their w’s on hard work & ethic w/o refs help to change outcomes of games-if you watch Bball w/o bias you would know that-Celts long time tradition is hard work & ethic.
    2nd-if you payed attn to what i was saying-i never said My Celts are small market team, it wouldn’t make any sense to say so about a team w/ 17 rings. Now the point is teams like ny, miami, lakers, nets all receive extra media hype attn & extra officiating help to keep their teams in the deep running overshadowing teams like Bulls, Spurs, Pacers, Nuggets, Warriors, Celts etc & the hard work ethic these teams produce making it more difficult to beat these “high profile/showtime teams” while also playing against the refs. you fans of them teams-ny, heat, nets, lakers, etc know exactly what i’m talking about. Me i have no problem seeing & calling when My Celts get a bad call in their favor-which for 5 or 6 years now are usually make up calls. It’s all a part of the league trying to bury the nba’s best dynasty & bring more $ to your showtime. The difference is “hard work & ethic teams” vs your “showtime teams”-period!!! & oh yeah-everyone complains of calls bad or good on the court-however why does Doc Rivers get fined for post game interview officiating & ny’s felton doesn’t get fined for his post game interview officiating complaints-that’s post game-GET REAL-WHY IS THAT!

  2. From a Celtics fan-Things that make you say hmmm-So let me understand this from an unbiased stand point-NOW the tricks-oops-i mean knicks want to complain about the officiating in game 1 w/ Pacers busting “Dat A?!” strait up from the gut-the audacity especially after games 1 & 2 against my Celts which were practically gift wrapped to ny via stern & the league-get F!!??! real ny-nba games need to be called consistently as they have been so heavily favored for these high profile/showtime teams for a while-ny-miami-lakers, nets! If games are called consistently-teams like Pacers, Celts, Bulls, Rockets, Wolves, Nuggets have no problem crushing these high profile teams. Microphone check-Doc Rivers just got fined $25,000 for legitimately complaining about officiating for game 1 or 2-WHATS UP WITH THAT LEAGUE-WHERE’S THE FAIR & IMPARTIAL -NONE THE LESS-I’M DIE HARD CELTICS & A FAN OF THE GAME PERIOD-HAVING SAID THAT-GO ON PACERS & SPANK DAT tricks A!? HARD! :)

    • eris says:

      I didn’t see the Knicks complaining about calls. They argue with officials oncourt, but so does nearly every other player in the NBA. And btw, since when were the Celtics not a high profile team? The Celtics did get 38 FTAs vs. LA’s 10 in one of the 2008 FINALS games, so I’m not sure why you’d be complaining about biased officiating.

  3. holyspectator says:

    if knicks dont win tonight, its pacers and miami in the ECF

  4. It’s pretty simple. The Knicks are by far the smarter and more talented team in this series. They have to play to these strengths in order to win. If they take themselves out of the game mentally by complaining about calls, however dubious, and dwelling on mistakes, then they can’t do that. If they can relax and let the offense come to them and continue their tenacious defensive play, they will win, no problem. Spread around some attempts and dish the ball guys! This is their series to lose.

    • chinngiskhaan says:

      thanks for the laugh buddy! By far smarter and more talented? What proof do you have of that? Sounds like a logical fallacy to me. A team loses to another team, and suddenly the team that lost is “by far” better than the team that won??????

  5. Leon says:

    the ampount of babbling that was just done in these comments are unreal. but lets go KNICKS

  6. stingray says:

    and after beating the knicks..beat the chicago bulls, not the heat…

  7. stingray says:

    go pacers..beat the knicks..

  8. JimD54 says:

    It kills me how these poster players like to barrel down the lane and expect everyone to get out of their way, and when they don’t the super star expects to go to the foul line….It’s also funny to me how these same players who cry because they don’t get fouls called for them, can play an entire game and commit only 1 or 2 fouls themselves.

  9. W/E says:

    The answer is simple, Carmelo, J.R running the offence? Dont expect championships no need for fake expectations the disappointments are guaranteed.

  10. JimD54 says:

    The Pacers are a hard hat lunch pail type of team and they are vastly underrated because they don’t have a super star that does TV commercials and gets star calls whenever he drives the lane, they have to work hard for what they get, and the hard work is paying off right now, I hope the refs let them play, it’s refreshing to see a real team and not the usual poster kid surrounded by support players…….. I wish them well…

  11. Edward Mckoy says:

    Stop

    Robert McCoy On May 7, 2013 10:52 AM, “NBA.com | Hang Time Blog” wrote:

    > ** > John Schuhmann posted: ” [nba-video > vid=channels/playoffs/2013/05/07/pacers-knicks-gm2-preview.nba] . NEW YORK > — The politicking has begun. Just one game into Knicks-Pacers, we’re > already hearing some talk that may be meant to influence the officiating. > Raymo”