The playoffs are a battle of wits and coaching. A battle between the minds of coaches can be captured in every game of every series. Teams are constantly making adjustments whether they come possession by possession, game by game, or half by half.
So far in the Celtics and Knicks series, Mike Woodson has been winning the battle of wits between he and Doc Rivers. That showed especially last night when the Knicks needed an offensive jolt out coming into the second half.
What better player to use to spark your offense than Carmelo Anthony? He is the fulcrum that keeps the Knicks offense moving like a well-oiled machine. In order for the Knicks to win most of the time, Melo has to get going.
The Celtics did a great job of stopping Carmelo in the first half. He went 3-11 in the first half and scored 15 points. If he didn’t make 8-9 free throw attempts, his first half would’ve been awful. He did a great job of drawing defenders and forcing them to foul.
But most of Carmelo’s possessions were coming from him establishing post position and wing isolations. The Celtics were fighting to keep Melo off of position on the block and even resulted to fronting him when Jeff Green was guarding him for a spell.
In the second half the Knicks got the offense that they wanted. They used Carmelo Anthony as a screener to enhance the floor spacing. He’d set a screen for a player moving off of the ball while the pick and roll was being utilized at the top of the key.
Because he was no longer in the paint, that left more room for dribble penetration and Tyson Chandler dives to the rim. It also opened up the floor for shooters. You can see that in the video below.
The Knicks used a technique with Melo on the baseline to free up space on the perimeter. Chandler and Felton had plenty of room to work with up top while Melo was screened by the ball handler on the weak side. Then he goes to the other corner through the baseline and sets a screen for Iman Shumpert.
While this is going on, the pick and roll up top distracts Paul Pierce enough for Shumpert to get free from off of the switch. Felton notices that and dishes the ball to the corner for an Iman Shumpert three point attempt.
That same action was used in combination with Melo isolating on the block and Melo as the roll man on the wing. This combination of off and on ball action was what broke the game open for the Knicks and the Celtics should expect to see this throughout the rest of the series.