“You take out the Xs and Os of the game, they flat out played harder than we did today. That was the key to their victory. They outplayed and outworked us. There is nothing else that needs to be said about that,” Carmelo Anthony emphatically stated on Sunday afternoon.
It’s easy to simply say the Knicks need to display more of a focused effort on both ends of the floor when examining the rebounding disparity in Game 1. Indiana features arguably the biggest one through five lineup in the entire league and its effect on the glass was clearly evident in the first contest. The Pacers outrebounded New York 44-30, including an 11-6 offensive rebounding advantage. To put the offensive rebounding numbers into perspective, Indiana was able to generate 20 second chance points from its work after missed shots.
Size will not change over the course of this series. At 7-2, Roy Hibbert will continue to present problems, David West is a strong power forward, and Paul George, Lance Stephenson, and George Hill are long wing players that can crash the boards as well.
The Knicks bigs can match Indiana’s significant length and strength. Tyson Chandler, Kenyon Martin, Anthony, and even Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith are capable rebounders. This group is essential to New York’s success on the glass. This was evident in the close out Game 6 win in Boston when the Knicks ripped down 15 offensive rebounds.
Specifically watch the Knicks on the offensive boards as they attempt to establish a “physical” presence inside the paint by forcing Indiana’s frontcourt to work for every ball that bounces off the rim.
The Pacers ended the year as the No. 1 rebounding team in the NBA and only allowed 90.7 points per game during the regular season. Points are hard to come by against the Pacers and second chance points via tip-outs and offensive rebounds will go a long way in deciding the outcome of Game 2.
At Monday’s practice session, Anthony reiterated the importance of rebounding success, “First of all, they are a tough team; they attack the offensive glass, a lot of long rebounds that they were getting. On the offensive end, we have to make shots, we don’t make shots, they rebound the basketball and that spreads the margin of rebounds out and make it look like it did yesterday.”
He added, “In our minds, we cannot get outworked like we did yesterday and that will be the adjustment.”