The Knicks staved off an embarrassing elimination on their home floor on Thursday night, now they must travel to a place they have not won at all season – Indiana’s Conseco Fieldhouse, a place the home team hasn’t lost at this playoffs – and repeat the formula again on Saturday night. On a night in which the Knicks didn’t necessarily play that much better than they had in the previous two games, the players still believe they can come through for their first away win this series, and bring it back home on Monday night.
More importantly, the win has sparked confidence in the Knicks that they can become just the ninth team to overturn a 1-3 deficit, and win the series.
“If any team can accomplish this, I feel like we can,” stated center Tyson Chandler.
If the Knicks are to go to Indiana and steal back home-court they’ll have to improve slightly on Thursday’s performance. You can give as much credit to a sloppy showing from the Pacers, as you can to a desperate Knicks team. Indiana’s careless ball handling (19 turnovers), and the 14 missed free-throws, contributed just as much as yet another anaemic shooting night from New York (41% as a team).
“We didn’t shoot the ball very well but we made shots at the crucial time. Tonight it was just one of them days where you just got to leave it out there on the basketball court,” said Carmelo Anthony, who finished with 28 points (12/28 shooting) and 6 rebounds.
New York were also aided by Pacers’ point guard George Hill’s absence with concussion. Indiana’s offense looked stagnant and lost without Hill who scored 26 points in the Game 4 win. His status is still day-to-day, and there is no guarantee that he’ll play in Game 6 on Saturday. Nevertheless, the Knicks must find a way to win again, and hope the Pacers play as badly as they did Thursday.
“We try to steal the series by bringing it back home for Game 7,” said head coach Mike Woodson, who made several tactical changes to his lineup, including playing Chris Copeland (13 points on 4/6 shooting) more minutes, while cutting back both Jason Kidd and Amar’e Stoudemire’s playing time. Both failed to see the court in the second half.
“Coaching is a feel. It’s not always what players want at the end of the day, it’s about winning,” Woodson said. “That’s all I’m in it for. I’m sure Kidd and Amar’e probably wanted to play, but I don’t think that they’re going to complain about anything.”
Now they just have to win another two. Anthony says the team confidence is intact.
“We all believe at this point. We all have confidence,” Anthony said.
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