It’s almost crisis time for the New York Knicks as they head into Game 4 of their second-round series against the Indiana Pacers trailing 2-1.
Coming off their worst performance in these playoffs, the Knicks not only need to figure out how to effectively attack the Pacers defense, but how to get physically well also.
J.R. Smith, who played 25 minutes in Game 3 on Saturday night despite a high fever, sat out of the Knicks’ morning practice on Sunday. But he’s not the only one as he was also joined by Kenyon Martin, who sat out sick as well.
“Kenyon’s kind of coming down with [illness], too,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson told ESPN’s Jared Wade, “so we’ve got to be careful that this thing doesn’t spread, and other guys start dropping.”
The Knicks not only hope that Smith starts feeling better by Tuesday’s Game 4, but they hope he finds his shooting touch somewhere along the way.
With an offense that is struggling to score against Indiana, which had the NBA’s best defense during the regular season in terms of points allowed per possession, the Knicks need Smith’s scoring.
He won the NBA’s Sixth Man Award by averaging 18.1 points per game off the bench, but without Smith performing at a high level, the Knicks offense loses much of its explosiveness.
However Smith simply feeling better may not be enough to fix the Knicks woes.
He had another tough night on Saturday. Granted he was sick, but his nine points on 4-for-12 shooting just added to his overall struggles.
Since he came back from his one-game suspension, Smith has been nothing short of awful.
The Sixth Man of the Year has connected on only 19-of-69 (27.5 percent) shot attempts and only 7-of-27 (25.9 percent) three-point attempts.
During his last six games, Smith has combined to score only 61 points, but has taken a whopping 69 shots.
While the Knicks need Smith to get healthy, they also need Martin feeling 100 percent.
Even with Amar’e Stoudemire back playing a few minutes off the bench, the Knicks need all the size they can get against the much bigger and physical Pacers.
Roy Hibbert is having a field day against Tyson Chandler and if Martin can’t give Woodson some quality minutes at the defensive end of the floor, this series could end very quickly.
So while the Knicks have to deal with the physical style of the Pacers on the court, they are also getting beat up by the flu bug off the court.
If the flu bug wins, the Knicks attention could quickly turn towards the offseason.
Follow Matt Shetler on Twitter for news, reaction and analysis from around the NBA.