Mike Woodson says he won't change Knicks' starting lineup
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Down for the first time this postseason, the Knicks didn't look or act like a team in trouble, but they know tonight's game against the Pacers is a must-win.
That doesn't include changing the starting five, though. Woodson plans to stick with his usual "small" lineup against the bigger Pacers when the Knicks try to even the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series at one game apiece at the Garden.
After the Pacers' size helped them to a 102-95 win in Game 1 on Sunday, Kenyon Martin suggested the Knicks consider moving Carmelo Anthony, who shot 10-for-28, to his natural small forward position. Woodson seemed to get annoyed when that possible adjustment was mentioned Monday.
"No, not right now," Woodson said. "It's too early in the series . . . Melo's played big guys all year. The last I checked statistic-wise, we've been pretty damn good this year with Melo playing at the [power forward] spot. I don't see any reason to change it right now."
It's a critical time for the Knicks. If they lose both games at home before heading to Indiana for the next two, it will be difficult to get back in the series, let alone advance. But Woodson has confidence in his players, and his starters.
The Knicks are 17-4, playoffs included, when they start Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert, Anthony and a center. The Knicks also beat the Pacers twice in the regular season with Anthony starting at power forward. Woodson doesn't think it's time to panic and make a major move with the starting lineup just yet.
"I'm not saying I won't do that," he said. "I'm just saying right now we only got one game under our belt and the small lineup that we started didn't cost us the game.
"I don't consider Melo a small. You guys might. But I don't. Kenyon is no bigger than Melo is kind of how I look at it when you talk about trying to start a bigger four. We'll just gauge and see how it goes, and if we have to make that adjustment, I'll be the one to make that call."
Anthony agreed with Woodson. "We've been put in this situation that we're in right now in the second round, winning our division, winning 50-plus games, with me at the four," Anthony said. "So there's no need, I think, to change that right now."
The Knicks do plan to change some things, specifically their approach.
The Pacers controlled Game 1 by packing the paint and controlling the glass. They outrebounded the Knicks 44-30 and were plus-10 in second-chance points. Shooting guard Lance Stephenson's 13 rebounds in 38:51 was seven more than Tyson Chandler and Martin totaled in 52:58.
"They outworked us, but I don't think that will happen again," Anthony said. "We can't and won't let that happen again."
Woodson played Chandler and Martin together at times in Game 1 and could try that more Tuesday night. But overall, the Knicks need to play harder, tighten up their rotations on defense because they were out of position to grab defensive rebounds, and hope Anthony and J.R. Smith find their shooting touch.
Anthony is 35-for-110 in the last four games, including 2-for-22 from three-point range. Smith was 4-for-15 Sunday and is 12-for-42 in his last three.
"I don't blame it on shots," Woodson said. "We had our chances [Sunday]. Our defensive rotations and things of that nature, we kind of took a step backward."