The 2013 NBA Playoffs are underway and the New York Knicks have done something that they haven’t done in a very long time- hold a series lead.
However some tweaks need to be made for things to stay that way.
When analyzing the Knicks-Boston Celtics series, I often referred to Celtics forward Jeff Green as Boston’s X-factor, or the one guy that can make things difficult for the Knicks to win a series that they should on paper.
Green showed that early in Game 1 by torching the Knicks defense for 20 quick points in the first half before Mike Woodson made the adjustment of putting Carmelo Anthony on Green in the second half. Lost in ‘Melo’s 36 point Game 1 performance was the job he did defensively on Green, limiting the talented forward to only six second half points.
But going forward, that’s something Woodson should try and stay away from for long periods of time.
Woodson is going to want to do his best to play matchups wisely in this series, so you want to keep the NBA scoring champion fresh on the offensive end. In addition, you want to keep ‘Melo away from guarding someone who could potentially get him in foul trouble, which Green is athletic enough to do.
That’s when Iman Shumpert comes into play and Pablo Prigioni for that matter.
If Prigioni is healthy and ready to go for Game 2, which is expected, it allows Woodson to rotate his defense around Green.
Raymond Felton would move onto Paul Pierce for long stretches, leaving Shump as the primary cover on Green.
Felton actually did a commendable job on Pierce late in the second half after Shumpert had him for most of the afternoon. If Felton can successfully keep Pierce from going off in this series, it allows the Knicks to use their best perimeter defender on the Celtics most dangerous offensive player right now.
Shumpert has the length and quickness to make things very tough on Green to get to the basket and can bother him a great deal on the perimeter. More importantly though he can save Anthony some energy by having to chase Green around, which throughout the course of the series could prove to be equally important, especially since this promises to be a very physical series no matter how long it lasts.
“If Pablo ‘s back, the lineup changes to start out anyway,’’ Woodson told the New York Post’s Marc Berman. “We probably have Raymond on Paul, Iman on Green. That’s what we envisioned coming into the series before Pablo got hurt. I thought Melo did an excellent job on Green. Green’s a tough cover for anybody.”
During the second half of Game 1, the Knicks defense was outstanding as a team, holding Boston to a playoff-record eight fourth-quarter points and without a field goal in the final 4:32.
That’s the kind of effort the Knicks will need the remainder of the series to advance.
That will be easier said than done if Shumpert is able to effectively take Green out of this series.
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