By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
The cross-match that was one of the biggest storylines of this series has proven why over the first two games. With their contrasting styles as power forwards, Carmelo Anthony and David West have gone at it, and the ripple effects have been felt throughout both teams.
In Game 1, West scored 20 points on 8-for-15 shooting, all of his makes coming within seven feet of the basket. So, knowing they had to adjust for his strength and finishing ability, they concentrated their efforts on limiting his touches entirely.
“From a defensive standpoint, I thought we took the challenge,” Mike Woodson said after Thursday’s practice. “We got up, overplayed, tried to fight on post-ups, and didn’t give up as many second chance buckets as we did in the first game. I thought that was the difference.”
By aggressively denying his access to his comfort spots, Melo and Co. held him to 13 points on only seven shots in Game 2.
On the other end, West and the Pacers continued to struggle with the flip side of the matchup they hoped to be the ones exploiting. Indy opted to stick Paul George on Anthony the majority of the time on Tuesday, leaving West to roam elsewhere. The Knicks’ offense opened up and they were able to attack.
They ran five fewer isolation plays than they did in Game 1 and, not surprisingly, had five more assists (20) as a team. When they did isolate, guys like Iman Shumpert and Pablo Prigioni had favorable matchups and room to create because of solid floor spacing. Shumpert wound up with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting and Prigioni chipped in 10 on a perfect 4-for-4 night.
Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images