New York and Carmelo Anthony had a chance to close out the Boston Celtics in Game 4 but both failed in a big way.
Now they get a chance to do it at home and they better do it sooner rather than later because the pressure will only mount as we get deeper into the series.
Here is what New York must do to seal the deal on Wednesday night.
Share the shots
J.R. Smith was second on the Knicks’ roster in points per game with 18.1. Not having him in Game 4 forced Carmelo Anthony to take more shots.
Doesn’t it make sense? Carmelo, one of the best basketball players in today’s game, has only won one playoff series in his career. New York hasn’t won a series in a LONG time.
Why not try to close the deal in a big way? Anthony tried doing it by himself, shooting 35 times in 45 minutes played. Nearly every minute, Carmelo shot the ball.
Anthony also got to the free throw line 20 times in the game. There weren’t many non-Carmelo highlights in Game 4.
With Smith back in the lineup, Anthony must revert back to his Game 3 self where he only shot 25 times. Still an absurd amount, 25 is what he’s comfortable with and the team is better when he gets around that number.
He needs to figure out how to get others involved and simply having Smith in the game will help significantly.
Take Better Shots
It surely doesn’t help when your superstar shoots 10-of-35 but as a team, New York can get much better looks.
They shot a combined 31-of-90 from the floor and 7-of-30 from long range. Smith will help a lot in these categories when he returns but his physical presence will help others be more efficient, too.
He creates space with his ability to shoot from outside. When he’s on, there are few in the league that can get hotter from long range. He takes up a lot of attention.
With Anthony shooting less and spreading the wealth, New York will see a much better shooting day.
Clog the Paint
When on top of its game Boston can share the ball unlike any team in the league. That usually happens when Rajon Rondo is on the floor, but they did it in Game 4 dishing out 22 assists.
Spreading the wealth usually leads to success for the aging Celtics but what also helps is finding open shots beneath the three-point line because of the lack of consistent shooters on the perimeter.
Boston doesn’t want to take three-point shots. They don’t want to take them because they aren’t comfortable settling from outside. They shoot the 4th least three-point field goal attempts in the NBA and are clicking at about a 35 percent clip which is ranked in the mid-level of the NBA.
New York must clog the paint while forcing contested jumpers from outside. Paul Pierce can burn you and a select few others can, but it’s a tactic that must be used for the Knicks.
Game 5 should be a battle between the team that shoots the most threes in the league against a team that shoots a great deal less.
Generally, when the idea is to go strength vs. weakness, it tends to be a positive for the team that is significantly better.