Opening Tip: Success with smaller lineups?

April, 22, 2013
4/22/13
10:31
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: Can the Knicks create an advantage with a smaller lineup against the Celtics?

On Sunday, Mike Woodson said Pablo Prigioni will start at point guard when healthy, moving Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert to the 2 and 3 spot, respectively.

Many coaches would counter with a bigger lineup against a Boston starting five of Avery Bradley, Paul Pierce, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett. But Woodson is confident in the Knicks' smaller lineup strategy, which should pay off offensively.

With the extra point guard on the court, the Knicks can look to score more off the pick-and-roll, which should force the Celtics to scramble to rotate. The Knicks would also be more likely to make the extra pass. Woodson said the offense in Game 1 became too stagnant at times with Felton as the sole point guard on the court. While Felton played well, the coach said Prigioni was "definitely missed."

But here's the question: Can a smaller Knicks lineup contain the Celtics? With Felton on Pierce and Shumpert on Green, Doc Rivers could call more isolation plays on the perimeter and in the low post. Woodson would likely have to send an extra defender at the Celtics' two best scorers, which means the Knicks' perimeter rotations need to be on point.

Rivers-coached teams play smart basketball, and his players have a knack for reading the defense well and finding open creases to score. For example, three times in Game 1, Bradley capitalized off backdoor cuts. Pierce, Green and Garnett complicate matters because they're skilled passers out of the low post.

Do you think the Knicks can beat Boston with their smaller lineups? Leave us your comments below.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
27.4 3.1 1.2 38.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsT. Chandler 9.6
AssistsR. Felton 5.6
StealsI. Shumpert 1.2
BlocksA. Bargnani 1.2

NEW YORK CALENDAR