Woodson: 'Offensively, we're searching'
May, 2, 2013
By Jared Zwerling | ESPNNewYork.com
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsRaymond Felton scored 21 points and dished out four dimes despite the Knicks' struggles on offense.Before the Knicks take the practice court Thursday morning, the coaching staff is going to spend a considerable time going through the offensive game tape of Game 5's loss.
While the Knicks haven’t averaged 100 points per game in the series like they did during the regular season, their offensive flaws have been particularly exposed after back-to-back losses.
"Offensively, we were searching," coach Mike Woodson said after Game 5. "I'll go back and break this tape down, and we've got to come up with another plan."
The first thing Woodson is going to notice is how the Knicks' subpar defense didn't lead to much offense -- something he preaches constantly to his guys. Entering Wednesday night, the Knicks had 44 steals in the series compared to the Celtics' 21. But the Knicks had only eight steals in Game 5 and didn't capitalize that much in transition off of defensive rebounds. When the Knicks went up 3-0, those factors led to the Knicks controlling the tempo and scoring more points in the open court with their guard-oriented lineup.
"We're just not getting into our offense quick enough," Woodson said after Game 5. "We're just laboring. Our pace has got to pick up; that's on me."
Give some credit to the Celtics. In the past two games, they limited the Knicks' transition game while picking up their own pace. In the past two games, the Celtics had 25 fast-break points compared to the Knicks' 19. The Celtics have slowed down the Knicks to make them play half-court basketball through Carmelo Anthony, and the abundance of isolation caused by that slowing -- 28.6 percent of their plays in Game 4 and 26.3 percent in Game 5 -- has hurt them. The Celtics excel more defensively with their physical, grind-it-out style, and they're now winning that battle.
"The playoffs are like a game of chess, and Doc [Rivers] is winning," a veteran NBA scout said. "Doc is better than Mike at making adjustments. Doc is one of the best in the game at that."
The pressure is now on Woodson, so what might he do if Game 6 is more halfcourt-oriented?
It all starts with Anthony. Because the ball is in his hands the majority of the time, six assists won't cut it. That's how many he has in the entire series. While Melo "takes it personal with the Celtics," according to James White, he can't get caught up in trying to be a one-on-one hero. He needs to trust his teammates more and make quicker reads in pick-and-rolls and out of double-teams, utilizing skip passes to throw off the Celtics' defense.
The bottom line is: The Knicks need better ball movement. That team approach was a major difference for the Celtics in Game 5.
"I thought we moved the ball well," Kevin Garnett said. "In order for us to be successful, we need to lean on one another on both ends of the court."
Woodson also needs to play Pablo Prigioni more so he can set the tone offensively. The Argentine logged only 13 minutes in Game 5. And what about Chris Copeland? The Knicks have no other low-post threat besides Anthony, and a surprise substitution can come in handy. The Knicks also need to inject some clever screen sets to get their 3-point shooting going.
"If they don't go off from the 3-point line in the next game, it's big trouble in the Big Apple," the scout said.
After Game 5, some of the Knicks just felt they missed shots they normally make. But it's more than that, and the team will need to make some adjustments in Game 6.
Even Anthony knows the Celtics won't go away.
"It wasn't going to be a walk in the park," he said. "Those guys were going to fight, and they're showing some fight right now."
You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.