The New York Knicks did exactly the one thing that they couldn’t afford to do Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden- lose home court advantage in the series.
A big reason why the Knicks now trail 1-0 in their second round series was the performance of Pacers’ center Roy Hibbert.
And if Hibbert continues to be dominant in this series, it will be a quick one as the Knicks will be hitting the golf course a lot quicker then they may have originally planned.
The Pacers hold a distinct size advantage over New York and can dominate the paint in almost every game.
The difference for Frank Vogel’s team is that he can play two legitimate bigs in Hibbert and David West, while Mike Woodson will never use two bigs at the same time as he continues to go with a small lineup. Maybe when Amar’e Stoudemire returns that could change, but by that time, the series could be in jeopardy of being over.
The problem is that the Knicks have no legitimate answer for Hibbert.
Hibbert scored 14 points in thoroughly outplaying counterpart Tyson Chandler, while West had his way with Carmelo Anthony guarding him and scored 20 points. The duo combined to make 14-of-24 shots on the afternoon while West and company frustrated Anthony as he struggled from the floor once again. ‘Melo scored 27 points, but did so on only 10-of-28 shooting.
However while Hibbert and West had a nice afternoon offensively, that’s not where they will impact this series the most.
What he does at the defensive end could be enough to carry the Pacers to a quick series victory.
The Knicks were held to 42.9 percent shooting inside five feet with Hibbert on court in Game 1 (league average: 59.4 percent). The Pacers have outscored opponents by 50 points inside five feet with Hibbert on court this postseason and have been outscored by 22 with Hibbert on the bench.
Basically that means the Knicks must do a better job of getting the Georgetown product in foul trouble and keep him off the floor.
When he’s out there he makes life miserable for the Knicks.
Hibbert’s defensive presence alone is intimidating and he can handle anyone in a Knicks’ uniform straight up, which allows the rest of the Pacers defenders to be more aggressive and physical knowing Hibbert is behind them.
The Knicks shot a measly 13-for-30 at the rim, which isn’t going to get it done this series.
If they don’t find a way how to neutralize Hibbert at the defensive end of the floor, this will be a quick series.
They need a better plan and need it quick as Tuesday night has now become a must-win situation at The Garden.
Follow Matt Shetler on Twitter for news, reaction and analysis from around the NBA.