It took less than 48 hours to for the joy of New York Knicks winning their first playoff series in 13 years to vanish.
After eliminating their rival Boston Celtics on Friday night, New York came into Madison Square Garden on Sunday facing a younger and bigger version of the Celtics.
Indiana does not have a player on their roster as good as Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett. But their team finished the season number one in the league in rebounding with 45.9 per game, and second in points allowed per game at 90.5. They are certainly one of the true definition of “Team”. With those stats, it’s imperative that the frontcourt of New York try to diminish the size of the Pacers in the second round.
Knicks Center Tyson Chandler would naturally be the one that has try to match the Pacers size, but ended up failing miserably in Game 1.
Chandler was a non factor on Sunday with one of his poorest performances of the season. The 2012 NBA Defensive player of the year was essentially a no-show after finishing Game 1 with four points, three rebounds, and two blocks.
He was plagued with foul trouble all game playing only 28 minutes and was badly outplayed by the Pacers Roy Hibbert.
“Tyson was in foul trouble but individual matchups is going to be the difference in this series,” said Mike Woodson. “I thought Hibbert played better tonight. I have to get Tyson playing better than Hibbert. It is a team but these are matchups we have to do better at.”
Hibbert, a former first round pick from Georgetown, tallied 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and five blocks. He was an efficient 6-9 from the field and his defensive presence was certainly felt around the rim as the Knicks shot only 13-30 from around the rim
“He attacks the glass.,” said Chandler. “They run a lot of sets for him to duck in and to get to his hook shot. I need to do a better job of keeping him out of his sweet spot.”
There is no question that the Knickerbockers need Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith to play better in this series to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Anthony missed 18 of his 28 shots, and the 6th Man of the Year had another tough game shooting the ball with a poor 4-15 for 17 points.
But Chandler is the one that has to make life tough for not only Hibbert, but guys like Paul Georger and David West. The frontcourt of Hibbert, West, and George combined to score more than 50 percent of the Pacers points. Woodson must get consistent double-double this series from Chandler, and a much stronger presence on the boards.
‘I thought they played harder than we did,” said Woodson. “That was the difference. They did all the little things. We have to give better effort across the board for us to get out of this series.”
The big difference between the two teams is the low post scoring. With no Amar’e Stoudemire, the Knicks don’t have one player who can score in the low post. The Pacers have about four players on the roster who are capable of scoring points in the low post. It is one of the reasons why Woodson times had Kenyon Martin and Chandler on the court together, something we rarely saw during the regular season.
“From a defensive standpoint, we weren’t bad” said Woodson. “We have to put some sets in come tomorrow that will help the two of them playing together. We haven’t played a lot of minutes with the two bigs in like that this season.”
Despite the early series deficit, Anthony is not worried about the chances of his team.
This was the first game,” Anthony said. “They outworked us, they outplayed us today and they stole one on our home court. We’ll go back tomorrow and make our adjustments for Tuesday’s game.”