As the 2013 NBA Playoffs continue, the New York will try to do something on Sunday that they haven’t done in 13 years- win a playoff series.
However if they are going to break out the brooms and sweep the Boston Celtics, they are going to have to do it without J.R. Smith, who was suspended for Game 4 after his elbow to the head of Celtics’ guard Jason Terry got him ejected in the fourth quarter of Game 3.
This isn’t anything new for the Knicks. Mike Woodson has been finding ways to win without his stars all season.
They’ve won without Carmelo Anthony. They’ve won without Amar’e Stoudemire. They also have won without the likes of Tyson Chandler, Iman Shumpert, Kenyon Martin and pretty much everyone else on the roster.
But not Smith. He’s been the one constant all season, having not missed a game due to injury all season. The NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year appeared in the first 80 games of the season before sitting out the final two regular season tilts as Woodson elected to rest his stars for the postseason.
Quite simply the Knicks aren’t used to playing without Smith in the lineup.
With that being said, can the Knicks wrap up this series without him?
The good news is that they are up 3-0, so it isn’t necessarily a must-win, but being that the Knicks haven’t won a series in 13 years, every postseason game seems like a must-win.
To do so, the defense has to still be there.
The Knicks have limited the Celtics to only 75 points and 37.5 percent shooting through three games.
If they turn in that type of effort defensively in Game 4, it won’t really matter who is on the floor for the Knicks.
Offensively though, someone will have to step up and replace Smith’s scoring.
He’s averaging 16.4 points per game in the playoffs and that has to be replaced.
My first guess is that Chris Copeland would get more minutes.
The defense takes a hit with Copeland on the floor, but he’s capable of getting hot scoring the ball. However Copeland isn’t off to a great start in these playoffs. Copeland started Game 1 for the Knicks but has not scored in 24 minutes on the floor in the series.
You know Carmelo Anthony is going to get his, but I actually expect it to be a team effort to replace Smith.
When Anthony gets a rest, I expect the ball to move a lot more than it would when Smith is on the floor. That means guys like Copeland, Steve Novak, Jason Kidd and others may get more opportunities to knock down shots.
From that standpoint it’s just a matter of guys stepping up to the occasion.
It will be difficult for the Knicks to win Game 4 without the Sixth Man of the Year in uniform, but it won’t be impossible.
If the Knicks stick to their gameplan, they will win their first playoff series in 13 years.
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