When the New York Knicks went on a 30-2 onslaught to bury the Indiana Pacers in Game 2, a lot of it was the result of hot shooting. But even more of it came from Indiana’s self-inflicted wounds. The Knicks were putting a little extra pressure on the Pacers, but many of the team’s 21 turnovers (12 in the first half) were more the product of sloppy play and a Laissez-faire approach by Indiana.
“They only had six turnovers to our 21,” said David West after the game. “That tells you who is being the more active, aggressive team defensively.”
They came out for tip off of Game 2 like they were playing with house money, and the Knicks jumped out to a 29-20 lead after the first quarter. West said that the team discussed the lackluster start in the locker room at the break. “We talked about that at halftime: The way we were playing was like a team that had stolen Game 1.”
There was a marked improvement after that, he said. “In the first half, we looked like a team that had a one-game lead on the road,” said West. “In the third quarter, I thought we played with a sort of aggressiveness and sort of identity we had throughout the year.”
It showed on the scoreboard. After starting the third quarter down five, the Pacers rallied to take a four-point lead. They outscored the Knicks by nine points in those first nine minutes of the second half.
“The wheels kind of fell off,” said West.
The Knicks took Indiana to the woodshed, and it was all about the turnovers. New York increased its ball pressure and started ensuring that two guys were around the ball. The intent was to make Indiana uncomfortable and to force them into bad decisions. It worked. “When we felt their pressure, we got a little loose with the basketball,” said West.
More than anything, that was what he thought happened: The Pacers stopped playing precise basketball while the Knicks upped their resolve. He views it as his team losing a big chance to take command of the series.
“We blew an opportunity there in the third quarter,” said West. “We turned the ball over, not making the right play. Ultimately, I think that’s what’s in the back of my mind more than anything: the amount of possessions we to gave them [against], really, token defense, having an extra guy around the ball. We allowed that to affect us.”
Squandering opportunities is not a good look for a team that is looking to maintain home-court advantage tonight in Game 3 in Indiana.
“I don’t think we understood that moment,” said West of the blown chance in the period. “We’ve got to close quarters better, especially in a position where you’ve got a team almost on the ropes in their building.”
He said they have gotten away with sloppiness at times throughout the year. Despite being the fifth-worst team in the NBA at coughing up the ball, for example, they still finished with the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. Against a team that puts up points like New York, however, West says the margin for error is slim. If Indiana continues to give up the ball, this series could get lopsided really quickly. The Knicks may not go on another 30-2 run, but with their offensive firepower, this isn’t like giving the ball away to the Bobcats.
“You just can’t beat a team like this giving them that many more opportunities. Fifteen more opportunities than you get,” said West, referencing the teams’ turnover differential. “I think they took 23 more shots.”
Not a good look at all.
Some Third Quarter Turnovers
As you can see, the Knicks do a good job putting defenders into the passing lanes and crowding ballhandlers. They are applying pressure. But this type of pressure should not be enough to make a team completely lose its composure and just start giving the ball away.
Early-Game Turnovers That Set the Tone for the Evening
As you can see in the clips below, this wasn’t a third quarter issue. The Pacers started the game off giving the ball away just as often. It was their demise in Game 2 and if they can’t fix the problem, it may be their demis in the series.