By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
The Knicks have one goal in Game 5: to keep the series alive.
They don't need to come back from being down 3-1 -- that's impossible to do all at once. They just need to find a way to win one at Madison Square Garden, where they went 31-10 in the regular season.
So to be consistent, let's look at the little things they can do to accomplish the immediate task at hand to send the series back to Indianapolis for Game 6:
- Start fast. The Knicks actually outplayed the Pacers in the second half of Game 4, 48-45. Had it not been for some very preventable lapses in concentration early on (as Jonah noted with the fouls in the second quarter), they may have been in position to take advantage of their strong finish. We saw Indy feed off of the emotion of the home crowd, now it's time for the Knicks to do the same.
- Crash the glass. The Pacers scored three more second chance points than the Knicks, and coach Woodson believes that was a key to the Game 4 loss: "In playoff basketball, you can't make hustle play mistakes. Everybody's gotta rebound. You go back to last night, it was the second chance points. And we paid dearly; every time they got one, something happened positive for their ballclub on the back end of it." Because of the way the Knicks have been trapping and scrambling, the Pacers have shot 25 or more three-pointers in each of the last three games. We know the Knicks are always looking to let it fly from deep. Long shots lead to long rebounds, and because Indy emphasizes all five players crashing the boards to begin with, it's imperative the Knicks match that commitment by finding their men and boxing out.
- "Let it fly." That's what Jason Kidd told his teammates after they lost Game 4 on Tuesday night. It's a mantra that can empower them to fight back with their backs against the wall. Carmelo Anthony shot 23 times for his 24 points, and J.R. Smith shot 22 times for his 19. The smart money says that with the kinds of looks they've been getting -- especially farther from the basket -- if those two keep shooting, they are bound to break out and carry the team to victory sooner than later.
- Keep it up defensively. The Pacers' shot distribution in Game 4 was exactly the kind of game the Knicks would want. David West and Roy Hibbert shot 5-for-17 between them. George Hill scored his 26 points, but many came on difficult shots and he's the one the Knicks want taking long jumpers. As a team, Indy has become comfortable shooting more threes than they did in the regular season, and as the 22nd best three-point shooting team in the league, that could come back to bite them if the Knicks can tighten up in other areas.
Photo by Ron Hoskins/Getty Images