5 New York Knicks Players Set to Explode in Conference Semifinals
5 Knicks Who Will Do Well Against Pacers
New York Knicks fans should be excited to see their team face the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, and should be even more excited to see a small handful of players on the team put up great numbers against Indiana's tough-as-nails defense.
The Knicks are just coming off of a gritty six-game victory against the rival Boston Celtics, and Game 6 really showed which players are going to take the next step in the next round. Be it a youngster still trying to establish himself or a veteran finally starting to get back on track, all signs are pointing towards another solid performance from the Knicks against the Pacers, especially from these men.
The fact is that New York cannot rely solely on Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith to carry the offense in each and every game, and this series against the Pacers is really going to be a test of how well the team can put in a group effort and not just expect the superstars to carry the load. Certain players are going to have to step up, or else the Knicks could face a potentially uphill battle.
Be it a tandem of centers going into beast mode, some people continuing to surprise us or maybe the least likely of x-factors continuing to wow the fans with skills he never really showcased before, New York is really in a position to have a solid series against Indiana and take the next step forward.
That is due to these small handful of players absolutely going off in the box score.
No. 5: Pablo Prigioni
A 36-year-old rookie from Argentina, Prigioni somehow found himself inserted into the starting lineup as the starting shooting guard towards the end of the season. Such has been the case in the playoffs, and his years of experience playing in Europe have come out to play in games that mattered.
Prigioni only averaged 3.5 points over 16.2 minutes per game during the regular season, but still managed to shoot 45.5 percent from the field and 40 percent from long range. In the playoffs, he has posted six points and 2.2 steals per game while making an astounding 42 percent from three-point range. In Game 6 against Boston, he sunk four three-pointers and had a total of 14 points.
Just how much of a role Prigioni will have in the series against Indiana remains to be seen, but one thing is certain. If Game 6 is any indication, this man is ready to turn on the afterburners and go into overdrive.
No. 4: Steve Novak
In the playoffs thus far, Novak has been a non-factor. He is only averaging three points per contest over 8.4 minutes per game, not at all playing like the deadly sharpshooter he has been since joining the Knicks last season. Moreover, he missed Game 6 against the Celtics with back spasms, so there is no telling when he'll be available to play against Indiana.
However, if Novak is available to play, the odds could be in New York's favor. He averaged 7.2 points against the Pacers this season, showing that Indiana's tough defense had a hard time keeping him covered to some degree.
Moreover, let's not forget that whenever Novak has scored in double figures for the Knicks, the team is 31-9 dating back to last season. If he is making his shots, the Knicks have basically won the game from the get-go.
No. 3: Kenyon Martin
Even at 35 years old, Martin still has plenty of gas left in the tank. He didn't join the Knicks until after the trade deadline, but made the most of his time coming off the bench.
Over 18 games, he played 23.9 minutes per game and averaged 7.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and just under a block per contest.
That defensive intensity carried over into the postseason, where Martin averaged 4.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks against the Celtics. Indiana is a tough team in the paint, and his years of experience will certainly help keep the young Pacers at bay as he goes toe-to-toe with the likes of Roy Hibbert and David West. If he can win those battles, then New York should enjoy a successful run in the Conference Semis.
No. 2: Tyson Chandler
Over the first few games of the Knicks' series against Boston, it was clear that Chandler was still getting his legs back after missing a great deal of time towards the end of the regular season, due to a neck injury. He only averaged 5.2 points per game against the Celtics, but his 8.7 rebounds prove that the man who was named the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year will soon be back in action.
Over his last three games, Chandler is averaging 11.3 boards and 1.5 blocks per contest. If he can bring that type of game against the Pacers and be great once again, New York's prospects for the remainder of the playoffs look good.
No. 1: Iman Shumpert
At long last, Shumpert is looking like the electrifying player he was in the second half of his rookie season before he tore his ACL in the Knicks' first playoff game in 2012. Splitting time between shooting guard and small forward, he's really proving himself to be a future star.
He is only averaging nine points per game in the playoffs, but his 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals are the stats that matter. At just 6'5", 220 pounds, he is playing like someone much bigger.
On top of that, Shumpert did a fine job of stepping up in the last three games of the series against Boston. He posted 13.6 points, eight rebounds and 2.3 steals per game over that stretch, and also shot 54 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from three-point range, showing a knack for hitting threes in the clutch.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Shumpert is going to be phenomenal against Indiana, and the fans will roar and become even more excited to watch him play next season.