NEW YORK – The panic has begun. The headlines just scream it.
“Big Trouble” is how the New York Daily News described the Knicks performance against the Pacers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. With more emphasis on the performance of one-star Carmelo Anthony-the New York Post has “Stinko De Melo” on the back of its iconic tabloid.
Panic has already set in for rooters of the Knicks after they were manhandled by Indiana 102-95 Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. More physical presence underneath and a much younger roster at coach Frank Vogel’s Pacers disposal, many New Yorkers worried their NBA Playoffs might be done just with just a seventh of their second round series done.
These extremes can often be apart of professional sports in the Big Apple, but they don’t exist with the team that sent them into a tizzy.
On Monday the Pacers remained calm the day after capturing New York and perhaps basketball’s attention with their impressive win over the Knicks. A Rangers NHL Playoff game forced them out of Madison Square Garden for practice but left their foresight for the series unaffected.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time,” cliched Roy Hibbert at the Reebok Sports Club Monday afternoon-and their is are some recent reason to be humble.
The Pacers opened with an impressive start to their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Hawks with double digit wins at home but had it turned quickly into a series once Atlanta caught a second wind at home with a pair of triumphs.
“Momentum could change in every game of this series. We were fortunate enough to get Game One but it’s just one game, we know we’ve got to get four and we’ve got to stay hungry,” said Vogel, but there is something to be said about something carrying over on the road.
Don’t forget the Pacers picked up their first win away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse just two days before the victory in New York in Atlanta. The 81-73 win snapped a 13-game losing streak at Philips Arena and may have been the team’s most impressive performance in nearly a month since they slumped down the stretch in the regular season.
Yet again, the Pacers tried to dismiss the notion that confidence may continue to carry over.
“New York is a very talented, really good team and I expect to see another huge effort from them again,” said Hibbert.
To counteract that the Pacers will likely try to do the one thing that has caused some concern for Knicks and their fans: Physicality. In Game One the Pacers outrebounded New York 44-30 overall while holding an 11-6 advantage on the offensive glass. Hibbert played perhaps his best game of the season by scoring 14 points while grabbing eight rebounds, using his defense to hold the Knicks’ Tyson Chandler to just four points as he fouled out after 28 minutes of court time.
New York admitted that their effort simply wasn’t good enough against the Pacers on Sunday afternoon and believe they can be better than they showed-and the Pacers expect a few chances from their opponents before Sunday’s Game 2.
“The series are about adjustments,” said forward David West. “We know they’ll make some adjustments, probably want to shoot better from the three-pointer line. Maybe maybe getting us running up and down the floor but I think that if we take care of the ball-we had 16 turnovers, but five or six of them were offensive fouls so it wasn’t the fact that we were giving them the ball.
“If we can manage to do that, we’ll find ourselves in good shape.”