Opening Tip: Should Woodson start J.R.?

January, 10, 2013
1/10/13
11:07
AM ET
Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.

Today's Burning Question: With Carmelo Anthony out, should J.R. Smith start against Indiana?

Mike Woodson probably had his fingers crossed on the Knicks' flight to Indiana.

[+] EnlargeJ.R. Smith
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesJ.R. Smith is averaging 16.9 points in 34 games, all as a reserve.
The Knicks coach said again and again over the past two days that he hoped Carmelo Anthony would avoid suspension following his dustup with Kevin Garnett.

Unfortunately for Woodson and the Knicks, the NBA announced around 7 p.m. on Wednesday that Anthony would be suspended for Thursday's game against Indy.

As a result, Woodson's job became a bit tougher. The coach needs to try and generate offense with Anthony and Raymond Felton on the sideline Thursday.

The Knicks went 1-1 without Anthony and Felton in the lineup against the Suns and Kings in late December. But they're facing a much stronger opponent on Thursday in the Pacers, who have won eight of 10.

In the previous two games without Felton and Anthony, Woodson started James White at shooting guard and Kurt Thomas at power forward. The coach kept J.R. Smith on the bench, and Smith responded with 27.5 points per game. He also hit the game-winner against Phoenix.

But should Woodson insert Smith into the starting lineup tonight? He loves Smith's firepower off the bench, but it's something to consider.

The Knicks' top two lineups in terms of offensive rating (a measure of points per 100 possessions) feature Smith. He's one of New York's hottest players, averaging 23.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.8 steals in his last five games. To us, those are numbers that you'd want in your starting lineup tonight.

Question: If you were Woodson, would you start Smith vs. Indiana?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
27.4 3.1 1.2 38.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsC. Anthony 8.1
AssistsP. Prigioni 3.5
StealsI. Shumpert 1.2
BlocksA. Bargnani 1.2