Profiling the Pacers’ Possible First Round Playoff Opponents

Photo: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Photo: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports /
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Photo: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Photo: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

New York Knicks (34-43) – 9th Place

by Tim Sartori

Offensive Rating
108.0 (11th)

Offensive Four Factors
eFG%: 50.5 (11th)
ORB%: 25.3 (16th)
TO%: 12.5 (3rd)
FT / FGA: 0.183 (29th)

Defensive Rating
109.4 (24th)

Defensive Four Factors
eFG% 51.6% (25th)
ORB%: 74.6% (14th)
TO%: 13.8 (15th)
FT / FGA: 0.244 (29th)

Likely Starters
Carmelo Anthony
Amar’e Stoudemire
Tyson Chandler
Iman Shumpert
Raymond Felton

Key Reserves
J.R Smith
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Pablo Prigioni

Season Story
Ah, the Knicks. I’m unfortunate enough to be a fan of this team, so I have the displeasure of consistently watching them night in, night out.

Expectations were fairly high after a 54-win season and all relevant players returning – minus Chris Copeland and Steve Novak – plus the addition of Andrea Bargnani to be that extra go-to scorer the Knicks so desperately needed.

However, the season started out rough with New York posting a 3-13 record after 16 games. The beautiful ball movement that was yielding open shots all through last season was gone, shooting percentages were down, the defense was abysmal. J.R. Smith returned a week and a half into the season, and shot 30% from the field through his first 10 games. Times were tough.

On January 28, the Knicks had a 9-21 record – even the harshest of critics wouldn’t have expected this from them. Around this time, Bargnani went down with a torn ligament and the Knicks, at least defensively, looked far better for it. A little run at the start of the new year helped them move towards a more respectable record, and by the All-Star break they sat at 20-32.

Nothing particularly notable happened post All-Star break – they Knicks’d for a while, going on a seven-game losing streak that was immediately followed by an eight-game winning streak, and now sit at 33-45 through 78 games.

Oh, and these guys are still fighting for a playoff spot with a actual chance at getting there. Eastern Conference!

Biggest Strengths
Shooting. The Knicks’ roster has a bunch of floor spacers, and while coach Mike Woodson has struggled putting the right guys on the floor together at times, most line-ups all have a few guys with the ability to get really hot, really quickly. When the ball is moving and they’re playing unselfish basketball, it’s still a joy to watch.

Biggest Weaknesses
Defense, without a doubt. Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Amar’e Stoudemire are both proven catastrophes defensively, and when paired with Ray Felton and J.R. Smith – two more below-average defenders – it starts to become an issue. Fortunately, Iman Shumpert has been showing real defensive skills recently and actually looks somewhat competent in defending a pick and roll.

At times this season, Tyson Chandler hasn’t looked to have been giving it his all defensively, but New York hopes he can pick it up and be the defensive anchor he has proven to be in the past, should the Knicks get there.

The streaky guards: Hardaway, Smith, and Shumpert. All these guys have shown they can light it up from downtown from time to time, with a few of J.R.’s performances over the past couple of weeks being the best example. All these guys are huge benefactors from the aforementioned excellent ball movement that New York is still showing flashes of, and once they knock down a couple of open shots they can really get going in a hurry.

Head to Head With Pacers:  Indiana 2, Knicks 1
The first meeting was an overtime loss for the Knicks, they were on a back-to-back, and it was be fourth loss in a nine-game losing streak to-be. Paul George and Melo went for 35 and 30 points, respectively, but both on sub-50% shooting.

The second one was on a national TV blowout, as the Pacers won by 28. Lance went for 28 on 10-for-17 shooting, and was a +30 in 35 minutes.

The third and most recent meeting was in New York. The Knicks looked like they might blow what was a 12-point lead at half time, but won by 6.

Are They Are Threat to Indiana?
The Knicks fan in me says yes, but the Pacers blogger in me says hell no. I’m part of the ‘Pacers will get their stuff together in the playoffs’ camp though, so me having Indiana as a lock to win is based on that happening, If this Indiana team is at their best, then New York aren’t winning a single game against them.

However, we know the Knicks can get hot, and they could easily steal a game or two if the Pacers bring this nonchalant attitude into the postseason – and in all honesty, if any team out of the four potential playoff opponents were to beat Indiana, my money’s on this freaking New York Knicks team.