Pablo Prigioni’s role on the New York Knicks has grown and expanded as the season has gone on. When the crafty PG missed New York’s first playoff game against the Boston Celtics with a sprained right ankle that he suffered in the last regular season game of the season, the team’s ball movement and on-ball defense suffered.
Prigioni is averaging just 3.5 points and 3.0 assists per game this season, but his absence on the court was noticeable in the team’s 85-78 win against Boston. Avery Bradley made several back-door cuts throughout the game which led to wide open layups, and that is something that Prigioni will look to put a stop to as he returns to the Knicks lineup tonight in Game 2.
Prigioni is a tremendous man-to-man defender, which he has proven against star players like Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving, and will likely match-up with Bradley tonight (although, we may see Prigioni take on Jeff Green or even Paul Pierce for stretches).
The Knicks will look to control the tempo against the Celtics with their four guard rotation of Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, Jason Kidd, and Prigioni. “We want to get out, we want to pressure early, we want to pressure them full court,” Coach Mike Woodson said. “Make sure we run the shot clock down on them and force them to take tough shots, and when they take tough shots and we get rebounds, we’ve got to run.”
With Prigioni back in the lineup, that will be much easier to do. Look for the Knicks ball movement and overall defense to improve in the return of the 36 year old rookie tonight, as the Knicks try to take a 2-0 series lead.