GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) - 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.
“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.”