When facing a defensive juggernaut like the Pacers, every minor tweak can pay big dividends on the offensive side of the floor. Indiana has shut down the 3-point line and built a brick wall in the paint while holding the Knicks below 83 points in the past two games.
There is no direct correlation with free throw attempts and wins but New York can fuel its offense by shooting easy shots at the stripe. Additionally, a large number of attempts will help develop rhythm for struggling shooters and place the Pacers bigs in foul trouble.
J.R. Smith was at his best this season when attacking the lane in search of contact at the rim. He can quickly snap out of his slump by reaching the free throw line 5-7 times in Thursday’s Game 5 elimination contest. For a dynamic scorer like Smith, the simplest way to ignite his offense is to see the ball fall through the net.
New York’s frontline must apply pressure to Roy Hibbert and David West. Pick-and-rolls that end with the roll man near the rack should be a positive for the Knicks bigs. It’s a challenge New York has faced the entire series against a 7-foot-2 center that elevates straight in the air without compiling a bunch of fouls.
“We’ve been able to mix-and-match and get to the free throw line and get Tyson [Chandler} and some of our bigs in pick-and-rolls and things like that but it’s kind of been a struggle in that area,” head coach Mike Woodson confirmed at Wednesday’s practice session.
If the Knicks can establish a significant disparity at the stripe in Game 5, they might uncork that lethal offense that was so evident throughout the 2012-13 regular season campaign. On the flip side, Woodson wants to make sure his team limits the Pacers' free throw attempts.
“I just thought last night we got into a shoving war in terms of unnecessary fouls and that was just ridiculous and put us behind in the second quarter, the shoving, pushing, technicals. Those things have to be eliminated,” Woodson stated.