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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Knicks vs. Pacers: Mini Series Preview

Schedule
Sun, May 5 vs Indiana 3:30 PM ABC
Tue, May 7 vs Indiana 7:00 PM TNT
Sat, May 11 @ Indiana 8:00 PM ABC
Additional games TBD

Four Factors (from hoopsdata)

Team Off. Eff. Def. Eff. Own eFG Opp. eFG Own FT rate Opp. FT rate
Knicks 107.7 103.0 50.9 50.7 26.5 28.0
Pacers 101.3 95.4 47.7 44.6 28.3 26.2

 

Team Own TO rate Opp. TO rate Own ORR Opp. ORR
Knicks 11.8 14.8 25.7 25.4
Pacers 14.2 12.8 30.1 25.3

I’d say the reputations for both teams generally follow the four factors. The Pacers are the rough and tumble defensive team. New York is the free-flowing three-shooting offensive juggernaut, except when they’re not. Just looking at efficiency differentials, the Pacers are +5.9 (5th) while the Knicks are +4.7 (7th). The Pacers are better defensively. Though, at the risk of being petty, the offensive embarrassment that is the Central Division may pad their defensive numbers ever so slightly. No Central teams are above average on offense. But make no mistake, the Pacers are every bit as salty as the Cs on defense. However, they are worse than Boston shooting from the floor. They make up for it by elite offensive rebounding. They are also elite at keeping opponents away from second chance points.

The Season Series and Playoff Matchups
The season series, as Seth noted over at Posting and Toasting, was weird. The November and January games were played really before either team had quite settled in. Indiana saw virtually as much roster backfill like Ronnie Brewer, Solomon Jones, and James White as they did of Iman Shumpert. On the flipside, the one game where pretty much everyone was healthy the Pacers beat us like we stole something. If there is a takeaway from the four games—and I’m not convinced there is—it is that Indiana’s chance to win is to shoot significantly better from the field.

Consider that the Pacers are elite at offensive rebounding yet still below average from the floor. They take a lot of jump shots (68%) shoot them terribly (.42 eFG), and get progressively worse late in the shot clock, (according to 82games.com). So, they depend on their frontcourt to clean up a good many messes. Well, in this series the Knicks are also elite at cleaning up their defensive boards. (And that’s not just about Chandler, all the guards rebound well.) So, what does that mean? It means the Pacers must hit the shots they get out of their sets. Against the Knicks they can’t rely on cleaning up an offensive mess on the glass. New York doesn’t have to out-rebound Indiana. They just have to keep the Pacers from making a living on the glass. Add to this, the Pacers are a high-turnover team. Turnovers offset whatever Indiana does on the offensive glass to some extent. The Pacers have low turnover games occasionally, but their turnover problem is a roster flaw. They can’t do much about it with their personnel.

Suffice it to say, I’m confident about New York’s chances. Based on what we know about both teams, I’d say that Indiana has one realistic path to the series win (barring an out-of-nowhere series from someone unexpected). The Pacers must win the eFG% battle handily to win the series. To be clear, they very well might. I don’t mean to imply that Indiana can’t just go get buckets for four games. They most certainly can. It’s more that New York a) can go get buckets, and b) can also win by simply playing to type on turnovers and even-or-close-to-it in the other three factors. I expect the teams to play fairly even on a per shot basis, but New York has the personnel to limit Indiana on the boards and get extra possessions.

27 comments on “Knicks vs. Pacers: Mini Series Preview

  1. Frank O.

    I lack the stats to back this up, but it feels like the Knicks have been a little less dependent on 3 pt shooting than in the past. The offense seems to have become more diverse.
    Seems like JR has been driving and slashing more, although Shump and Prigs appear to be shooting more from three.
    Maybe overall the averages haven’t changed, but the Knicks seem far more capable of attacking the paint than earlier in the year. There have been a number of games in the past month where the Knicks have taken maybe 22 3s, v. Earlier in the year when 30 3s was more common.

    Again, I haven’t got the tools to check this out. Perhaps my perception is wrong.

  2. flossy

    Frank O.: The offense seems to have become more diverse.

    I guess it depends on what you mean by “recently,” but if you’re just talking about the Boston series, I’d say the offense was more “worse” than diverse, particularly our big guns:

    Melo: 38.5% usage (!!), .482 TS%
    JR: 28% usage, .475 TS%

    There’s no way around it, that is just horrible. Really, truly not good at all, and definitely not good enough to beat the Pacers in a best of 7. If those two shoot that much, that poorly, there’s no defense good enough or line up adjustments clever enough to get us past the Pacers in this series, period. They were pretty much carried by Felton, Shumpert and Prigioni on offense in the first round, but we don’t have the luxury of letting them suck for two straight rounds unless some kind of deus ex Stoudemire-in-his-prime happens and totally changes the series. Melo and JR two need to step it up in a big way, or this will be an ugly end to the season.

  3. ephus

    For me, the Knicks biggest advantage is that Chandler can play Hibbert straight up in the post, so everyone else can stay home. Hibbert is really awkward, but if he commands the double team he becomes a useful offensive weapon.

    If I am Woodson, I want to run the early offense through Melo, because he should be able to get West into early foul trouble. West does not have the foot speed to cover Melo on the perimeter. He also cannot stay with Felton if the Knicks run the 1/4 PnR.

    I see Knicks in five, but I am an optimist.

    This is a great time to be a Knick fan!

  4. johnlocke

    Knicks in 5? That is bold / crazy.

    Agree with Flossy that we need Melo to at a minimum shoot his season averages, he needs to play a lot better. What I liked about Game 6 was that he focused more on moving the ball which helped mitigate his poor shooting.

    JR needs to be on his best behavior and not allow Stephenson to get in his head again.

    Kidd needs to start making offensive plays or get some of his minutes replaced by Prigs.

    Cope needs some PT. We need Novak healthy and hitting threes.

    We won that series without a great Melo and without playing great– I guess you could say that shows how good we are, or that it shows our inconsistency. Let’s not sleep on the Pacers, they’re a very good team. Knicks in 6 or 7 — assuming much of the above happens.

    ephus:
    For me, the Knicks biggest advantage is that Chandler can play Hibbert straight up in the post, so everyone else can stay home.Hibbert is really awkward, but if he commands the double team he becomes a useful offensive weapon.

    If I am Woodson, I want to run the early offense through Melo, because he should be able to get West into early foul trouble.West does not have the foot speed to cover Melo on the perimeter.He also cannot stay with Felton if the Knicks run the 1/4 PnR.

    I see Knicks in five, but I am an optimist.

    This is a great time to be a Knick fan!

  5. d-mar

    Simmons is pretty much a douche, but he had a pretty funny line:

    “Remember when we used to consider Marc Gasol the Frank Stallone of the Gasol family?”

  6. DS

    KnickfaninNJ:
    Just announced, PJ not returning as coach of the Nets. Any thoughts?

    It’s hard to imagine who they have lined up that would be a home run upgrade. Stan Van Gundy? Phil seems unlikely.

    IMHO (and I’m not really saying anything new), the Nets’ season was fairly impressive but the majority of their personnel moves are short-sighted in order to build a fan base in BK now (Johnson, Wallace signings). I guess they can still make a pretty good trade for Lopez and Humphries’s expiring, but otherwise it seems like they will be treading water for a while.

  7. DCrockett17 Post author

    KnickfaninNJ:
    Just announced, PJ not returning as coach of the Nets. Any thoughts?

    Kind of a no-brainer, but he’s still among of the least of their problems. That roster is skilled offensively, but it’s not really athletic. It has some decent defenders but no coherent defensive approach. Oh, and it’s capped out w/o much upside.

  8. jon abbey

    league leaders in WS/48 in the first round:

    1. Chris Paul-LAC .269
    2. Kevin Durant-OKC .263
    3. Stephen Curry-GSW .254
    4. Iman Shumpert-NYK .225

  9. DS

    jon abbey:
    league leaders in WS/48 in the first round:

    1.Chris Paul-LAC.269
    2.Kevin Durant-OKC.263
    3.Stephen Curry-GSW.254
    4.Iman Shumpert-NYK.225

    Next Scottie Pippen.

  10. Frank O.

    I’m growing more confident the Grizzlies are going to the final this season. They a built for this.

  11. Frank O.

    DCrockett17: Kind of a no-brainer, but he’s still among of the least of their problems. That roster is skilled offensively, but it’s not really athletic. It has some decent defenders but no coherent defensive approach. Oh, and it’s capped out w/o much upside.

    But the coach has to motivate these guys and this team played without passion

  12. Hubert Davis

    Frank O I’m with you. I put some money on them to win West after game 4 v Clippers.

    Crazy thing is, if we to win this thing, we’ll have to beat LeBron and 3 of the 4 best defensive teams in the league. Quite a guantlet to run.

  13. ruruland

    Few things.

    1. Melo, Chandler, and Martin are the three best three post defenders remaining in the East (and maybe the playoffs). Martin dominated West in the Nuggets Hornets series in 2009 (West scored some on pick and pops, but was absolutely shut down trying to create). West will not pull his tough guy stuff with Kenyon in the game. Far less likely to start throwing elbows on shots and off. rebounds.

    West’s numbers in 2009 vs K-Mart:28.5 usage, 40 % fg , .485 ts, 13.1 to %, 92 offensive rating. (Worst series of West’s career, considering he’s a guy that typically gets a lot of open shots in the mid-range area off of guard play, that’s really bad)

    2. West and Hibbert are far less capable of guarding high screen and role than the Celtics bigs (smalls were). The Celtics will likely prove to be the Knicks toughest defensive matchup of the playoffs. West cannot guard any Knicks starter. Hibbert cannot guard any Knicks guard on a switch like Garnett could. The Pacers probably won’t switch, which will open up all kinds of room to do things.

    Watch for a lot of high screen and role with Melo attacking Hibbert.

    3.The Pacers lone offensive strength is offensive rebounding. That happens to be the top Knicks defensive strength, along with post-defense.

    It’s a more favorable matchup for the Knicks, even if Indiana is a better team ( a max effort regular season team, whereas Boston is a proven regular season underachiever).

  14. ruruland

    Frank O.:
    I’m growing more confident the Grizzlies are going to the final this season. They a built for this.

    Durant and Martin are going to flail the Thunder to at least two wins though, let’s be real.

  15. BigBlueAL

    1 person voted for Melo as MVP preventing a unanimous vote for LeBron. Melo overall finished 3rd behind LeBron and Durant.

  16. flossy

    BigBlueAL:
    1 person voted for Melo as MVP preventing a unanimous vote for LeBron.Melo overall finished 3rd behind LeBron and Durant.

    Melo had his best season but that person should still have their voting privileges revoked.

  17. ruruland

    flossy: Melo had his best season but that person should still have their voting privileges revoked.

    This is easily the biggest sports story of the day.

  18. DS

    BigBlueAL:
    1 person voted for Melo as MVP preventing a unanimous vote for LeBron.Melo overall finished 3rd behind LeBron and Durant.

    LeBron can be a guard on the All-NBA team, right?

  19. Frank O.

    ruruland: Durant and Martin are going to flail the Thunder to at least two wins though, let’s be real.

    Oh, yeah. It could go six or seven. Totally agree.

  20. Frank O.

    But Gasol has to cut out the French pastry shit at the glass. He needs to dunk with authority with Ibaka in.

  21. BigBlueAL

    ruruland: See Twitter.

    The best part is all the media at MSG tweeting that they are all asking each other trying to find out who voted for Melo lol.

  22. ruruland

    BigBlueAL: The best part is all the media at MSG tweeting that they are all asking each other trying to find out who voted for Melo lol.

    Haha. Saw that.

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