Everybody knew the Pacers were defensive studs and probably the league’s best on that side of the rock.
Those who feel the Knicks will win the Eastern Conference semi-finals, cite the Pacer’s perceived lack of offense as the main reason.
That may be the case over the long haul, but you couldn’t find a Pacer that played heavy minutes and didn’t catch schoolyard wreck on NY in Game 1.
David West looked like he was on the Hornets playing with CP3 again, and his 20 points led the Pacers.
Roy Hibbert was picking spots with precision and had Tyson Chandler doing the Dougie all night. The 7-footer was making the Knicks contort shots and sending them whizzing by celebrity row. George Hill and Paul George played their usual mini-Pippen games.
The 102-95 score is not a true indication of how badly the Pacers whipped the Knicks in every aspect. Entering the playoffs, Indiana was ranked 8th-worse in the league in scoring at 94.7 ppg. Most figured Pacer’s coach Frank Vogel would tighten up the bootstraps even more come playoffs and really try to grind out the Ws.
However, Vogel flipped the script and let free-shooting Brooklyn legend Lance Stephenson and D.J. Augustin get into the offensive mix. Stephenson’s been slowly coming into his own this season and his 13 boards were critical. D.J. Augustin had the playoff game of his life with 16 points and he looks ready to carry an unexpected offensive load in this series.
"They did all the little things," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "We didn't start playing until we actually got down and it was desperation, and we've got to play like that from the start."
Some might see it differently, Woody.
The Knicks were playing and trying to win. There was an obvious lack of props for the Pacers’ scoring ability, so Indiana flexed the entire rotation on the Knicks. Indy did them like an old Method Man joint – “upside, downside, inside and outside, hitting you from every angle.”
The Pacers dismissed any notions that they are a one-dimensional squad, right off the bat.
And what of that vaunted Knicks offense? Boston’s rugged D was supposed to be the warm up the Knicks needed, in order to come into Game 1 packing orange and blue steel.
The Pacers swarming D was like the Celtics D on steroids, frustrating 'Melo and J.R. Smith into a combined 14-43 from the field. There isn’t an arena in the world that the Knicks can win in, if their bread-and-butter combo’s stinking it up like old ham and rotten eggs. To their credit, the tandem played hard and tried to scratch, chuck and scrape the Knicks back into it, but the Pacers won a unanimous decision reminiscent of Floyd Mayweather’s masterful dissection of Robert Guerrero on Saturday night. The Pacers didn’t floor the Knicks, but they left them with tons to contemplate.
Odds say 'Melo is going to find his stroke and the Knicks will start dropping some shots. When they do, it seems the Pacers will be fully loaded and ready to not only play smashmouth D, but match the Knicks, bucket for bucket.