After the Indiana Pacers took a 2-1 lead over the New York Knicks in their Eastern conference semi-final series on Saturday, many wondered what lineup adjustments New York head coach Mike Woodson would make in Game 4. Would he turn to a bigger starting five and try to match the Pacers size for size? Or what about going smaller as the game wore on in hope of creating better offensive spacing?
Woodson answered that question before tip-off Tuesday night by inserting 6-foot-9 Kenyon Martin into the starting lineup, pushing Carmelo Anthony — who has spent most of his time this season at power forward — down a spot to the three.
It was obvious what Woodson was hoping would happen: Anthony wouldn’t have to defend the bulkier David West and the Knicks added height might possibly be able to keep up with Indiana in terms of rebounding.
That wish turned out to be just that, a wish, as the Pacers bullied the Knicks 93-82 and took a commanding 3-1 series lead in the process.
The Pacers destroyed the Knicks on the glass for the second-straight game, as they pulled in 54 total rebounds with 16 of those coming from their own misses. The rebounding advantage — along with the superb defense — once again lifted a middling Pacers’ offense that could manage to shoot just 40 percent from the field.
In this current era of the NBA where small-ball is becoming more popular by the day, the Pacers have stuck with the traditional lineup that features two big, physical post players at the four and five. And by staying with what got them to this point, they have wore down the Knicks, leaving Woodson with more questions than answers when trying to find the correct lineup combination to counter with.
Now, with their backs against the wall, the Knicks must once again adjust on the fly, while their opposition knows exactly what they want to do.
It’s often said that styles win fights (or in this case, games), and the Pacers’ brand has the Knicks questioning their own at the worst possible time.
Brandon Curry is an NBA writer for Rant Sports. Follow Brandon on Twitter @ByBrandonCurry