By: Mike Wagenman (@mjwags23)
The Knicks and Grizzlies head into tonight’s matchups facing a 1-0 series deficit. New York lost home court advantage when it laid an egg in game one against Indiana. Memphis lost on a Kevin Durant mid-range jumper with 11 seconds left, and put up much harder of a fight than did the Knicks. If either team wants to even the series up before traveling to a new venue, here is what they must do:
New York Knicks
- The Sixth Man and the third-place MVP finisher MUST hit shots: It sounds so simple. Just make your shots. But it’s not simple. J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony have struggled to find their shots all playoff long, shooting 36.4 and 37.8 percent, respectively. Paul George’s defense is not helping the situation. Smith and Anthony shot 5-for-24 combined when being guarded by George, and 9-for-19 when being guarded by anyone else. The contested shots, the fadeaways, the forced shots: they have to cease to exist. Take the ball to the rim.
- New York MUST move the basketball: The Knicks offense, mainly from game four of the Boston series and on, has been as stagnant as its been all season. There is too much isolation, too much dribbling and not enough passing and driving. Involve Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin in the game. Pass the ball back to Raymond Felton for once after he gives it up.
- Tyson Chandler MUST have a bigger impact: Chandler had just four points and took just two shots. The worst part about Chandler’s performance in game one was his three rebounds. He averaged double-digits rebounds this season, but reeled in just three, causing the Knicks to be a minus-14 on the boards. He also allowed Roy Hibbert and David West to combine for 34 points.
- Mike Conley and free throw shooting MUST be better: Conley was expected to be the x-factor in this series and step up in game one, but he didn’t. He had 13 points, five rebounds and two steals, but here are the unacceptable numbers: 5-for-15 from the field, 1-for-5 from three, just three free throws attempted, and only three assists. Those numbers have to improve. Conley was slated to match up with Russell Westbrook, but now he can battle Reggie Jackson and Derek Fisher. They are nice players, but they aren’t Westbrook. Conley has to take advantage of the favorable matchup. As for free throws, Memphis lost by two and went 14-for-24 from the line. Enough said.
- Memphis MUST accept that KD is going to get his: Of course, the Grizzlies cannot let Durant explode for 50, but they must realize that there is no way he is going to score shy of 30. He’s too impressive of a scorer. In game one, all five defenders kept gravitating towards Durant, allowing Kevin Martin to break out of his slump and drop 25. Some shots Durant is going to sink regardless if one defender is on him or three. So, let Tony Allen or Tayshaun Prince guard him, and offer help when necessary. But don’t give Durant a gravitational pull.
- Memphis MUST relax: Memphis looked tense at times in game one. The Grizzlies have to remember that they won the season series 2-1, and now Westbrook is out. They know how to beat the Thunder, they’ve done it. Of course, Memphis has to steal one game in Oklahoma City to win the series, but game two does not have to be treated like a game seven. Remember Memphis, you were down 2-0 and stormed back to win 4-2 over the Clippers.
What do you think? Valid points? Let me know in the comments section and let us know who you think will win tonight. Follow us on Twitter @GTDsports.