Knicks coach Mike Woodson commented after their Game 1 loss to the Pacers that he may try to use Kenyon Martin and Tyson Chandler together with Carmelo Anthony to counteract the Pacers size. On paper this sounds like a good idea. It would make it more difficult for the Pacers to score by putting a stronger defender on David West. It should also help Carmelo stay out of foul trouble. However, let’s dig into the lineup stats to see if this would really be a good idea for the Knicks.
The Knicks have primarily used Carmelo as the 4 in their lineups this season. In fact, only 356 total minutes (8% of the Knicks’ total minutes this year) included a lineup with Carmelo and 2 bigs on the court. In those 356 minutes the Knicks outscored opponents by 3.6 points per 48 minutes. In the 2193 total minutes with Carmelo at the 4 (51% of the Knicks’ total minutes) the Knicks outscored opponents by 5.6 points per 48 minutes. If we take Carmelo out of the equation and just look at the lineups that featured 2 traditional big men (regardless of whether Carmelo was included or not) the Knicks only outscored opponents by 0.6 points per 48 minutes.
Knicks Lineup Distribution throughout 2012-2013 Season
Overall, it looks like lineups with 2 big men has negatively impacted the Knicks, but how does that same comparison look against the Pacers specifically? It actually gets a lot worse. Playing with 2 bigs against the Pacers had led to the Knicks getting outscored by 23 points per 48 minutes. With Carmelo as the 3, the Knicks were outscored by 16 points in only 17.6 minutes which equates to being outscored by 43.6 points per 48 minutes.
As a Pacers fan – I fully agree with Woodson’s idea to play Carmelo as the 3. If the Knicks employ that strategy in Game 2 I really like the Pacers chances of stealing a second road game in this series. If that happens I find it hard to imagine the Knicks coming out of an 0-2 hole when they have to play in Indianapolis 3 more times.