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Pacers Lead Knicks 1-0, Will Their Physical Advantage Win Again?

After defeating the New York Knicks 102-95 on Sunday, the Indiana Pacers will look for their second win on Tuesday night.

Notable from the first game was its physicality as the Pacers utilized their large size as an advantage against the Knicks.

This difference won’t change game-by-game so what tweaks can the Knicks implement for the rest of this series, beginning with the second game?

Think about changing the lineup

Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony

Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony

Are there better matchups against this big team from the Midwest? The Knicks leading scorer and team leader, Carmelo Anthony, got pretty banged up in Sunday’s game.

Knicks coach Mike Woodson hasn’t ruled this option out and said via ESPN, “I’m not saying I won’t do that. But I’m just saying right now we’ve only got one game under our belt. … The small lineup that we started didn’t cost us. And I don’t consider Melo a small. You guys might, but I don’t.”

Keep in mind that  Anthony is 6’8″ and 235 pounds as he’s matched up against the Pacer’s David West at 6’9″ and 250 pounds.

Not helping matters, on Sunday the player found himself in foul trouble (spending time on the bench in the third quarter). For the night, he only shot 10 for 28. In the end, it wasn’t entirely a bad game for Anthony: he finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds.

But Anthony needs to have a better game. It’s unfortunate he carries the weight of the world for the team but he does. A lot.

His teammates also need improved play; he’s not the only one with scoring woes. From Sunday’s game, Tyson Chandler had 4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks and 6 fouls while this year’s Sixth Man of the Year, J.R. Smith, continued battling cold shooting as he went 4 for 15.

It wasn’t all about the poor shooting by the Knicks; the Pacers did play good offense on Sunday. They outscored New York 59-38 during the second and third quarters and by the fourth, they had a solid lead. The Pacers also also outrebounded the Knicks 44-30.

For the night, David West led in scoring with 20 points while Paul George added 19 for the team. D.J. Augustin had 16 points with Roy Hibbert contributing 14 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks.

Overall, Anthony has been off during these playoffs as he’s only 35 for 110 in the last four games; his postseason shooting percentage has dropped to 38 percent overall and with 3-pointers, it’s down to 26 percent.

You can’t help but ask, how sore is Anthony’s shoulder? He did wear a strap in Sunday’s game and a few of his teammates expressed concern that the shoulder could have been targeted by the Pacers’ players.

Anthony disputed this by saying, “I’m fine. I’ve been bruised up, beat up all year long, so as far as them guys targeting the shoulder, I can’t worry about that.”

Alter History

Entering Game 2 at home after a previous loss doesn’t bode well for the Knicks. According to ESPN, the team has never won a playoff series after losing its first game; they have an 0-5 record in these circumstances. Ironically, the most recent time they lost a home Game 1 was yes, against the Pacers, in 1995 for the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Will history repeat itself? Vegas says no as the Knicks get the win (-6, 183 o/u). For this year’s NBA Championship, the Knicks sit at +2000 while the Pacers are +1800.

Game 3: Stoudemire could return

Amare Stoudemire

Amar’e Stoudemire

Looking ahead to Game 3, it looks like Amar’e Stoudemire could see some playing time. This would be helpful in the front court.

In Monday’s practice, the player participated in a 3-on-3 scrimmage–a first since his March knee surgery.

After practice, Stoudemire spoke to the media. The New York Times’ Howard Beck tweeted of his comments, “Amare still trying to regain conditioning, but says he expects to be available for Game 3, barring any setbacks this week.”

Game 3 is on Saturday.



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