Pacers-Knicks Preview

The New York Knicks will not concede they have a ”big” problem

– yet.

They know the Indiana Pacers have a size advantage, realize that

Carmelo Anthony is going to get beat up banging against a bulkier

body, and understand that a change to a lineup with a conventional

power forward may become necessary.

Not now, but check back if they lose Game 2 on Tuesday

night.

”I’m not saying I won’t do that. But I’m just saying right now

we’ve only got one game under our belt. … The small lineup that

we started didn’t cost us,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said Monday.

”And I don’t consider Melo a small. You guys might, but I

don’t.”

He is, though, when it comes to his matchup against the

Pacers.

Listed at 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds, Anthony has a quickness

advantage playing against power forwards, and he’s big enough to

defend many of them. But Indiana’s David West is 6-9 and 250,

playing his natural position he’s been an All-Star at, and he’s one

of the toughest competitors around.

The Pacers outrebounded the Knicks 44-30 on Sunday in their

102-95 victory in the opener of the second-round series.

”We’re a big, physical team,” Pacers center Roy Hibbert said.

”Their specialty is their offensive firepower and we’ve got guys

that could hold down the paint and the perimeter, too. So we just

try to make everything as hard as possible for those guys and use

our length and athleticism.”

Anthony was in foul trouble and shot only 10 of 28, and a couple

of his teammates even expressed concern about the pounding he took.

But Anthony offers no excuses and his coach makes no concessions,

saying the guys who started weren’t the problem since the Knicks

led after the first quarter.

”I thought we came out, we held our own the start of the game,

had nothing to do with who started at the 4 or the 5,” Woodson

said.

”Melo’s played big guys all year. Last I checked,

statistics-wise we’ve been pretty damn good this year with Melo

playing at the 4 spot, so I don’t see any reason to change at this

point right now.”

But something is affecting Anthony. The NBA’s leading scorer has

made just 35 of 110 shots over his last four games and his shooting

percentage for the postseason is down to 38 percent overall and 26

percent from 3-point range.

Point guard Raymond Felton wondered if the Pacers were targeting

Anthony’s sore left shoulder that he wore a strap over in Game 1 to

keep in place. Teammate Kenyon Martin said he didn’t think Anthony

should have to ”wrestle and tussle” with West and that perhaps

the Knicks should start a bigger lineup. (He would be the obvious

candidate to start).

”I think K-Mart is coming from a concerned standpoint as a

teammate from me getting beat up so much, but we’ve been going

through and dealing with the same thing all year long,” Anthony

said.

”I’m fine. I’ve been bruised up, beat up all year long, so as

far as them guys targeting the shoulder, I can’t worry about

that.”

Martin is only an inch taller and weighs less than Anthony, who

shifted from his normal small forward spot to the power forward

last season when Amare Stoudemire was injured and stayed there this

season when Stoudemire remained out. The Knicks flourished with the

small lineup and an emphasis on 3-point shooting.

”Kenyon is no bigger than Melo, that’s kind of how I look at

it,” Woodson said. ”We’ll just gauge it and see how it goes

tomorrow and if we’ve got to make that adjustment, I’ll be the one

to make that call.”

Stoudemire could become an option to get big man minutes later

in the series if he’s cleared to return from right knee surgery. He

took part in 3-on-3 scrimmages Monday, looking winded but expecting

to practice Thursday and be in uniform Saturday.

”Game 1 was tough for us, but we’re going to retaliate in Game

2 and see how that goes, and then from that game we’ll see what

type of adjustments we need to make. And then if I’m able to play,

then I will,” Stoudemire said.

The Knicks said most of their problems stemmed from being

outworked, but they’ve got other issues. Hibbert (14 points, 8

rebounds, 5 blocks) dominated his matchup with Tyson Chandler (4

points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, 6 fouls), and Sixth Man of the Year

J.R. Smith continued his shooting woes by going 4 of 15.

”I thought both teams played extremely physical. It’s going to

be that kind of series,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. ”I don’t

think we’ve won that physicality battle or anything like that. I

think they played extremely hard and physical, and so did we.”

With the Knicks unable to hit from the perimeter, they were

forced to drive at Hibbert and other big defenders, which plays

into the Pacers’ hands. But Anthony said he’ll keep doing it,

insisting again the Knicks’ effort was more of a problem than the

Pacers’ execution.

”For the most part, everything came down to effort yesterday,”

he said. ”In our minds, we cannot get outworked like we did

yesterday and that will be the adjustment.”

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