Mike Woodson said on Sunday that he'll plan to rest his core players this week, no matter the outcome is against the Pacers.
"If they want to sit and think about getting ready for the playoffs, I'll do that," Woodson said. "I don't have a problem with that. I'm kind of following [Carmelo Anthony] and Raymond [Felton], and guys that are in uniform that's played some big minutes."
If the Knicks win any of their final three games, including Sunday, they will clinch the second seed in the Eastern Conference (and the Pacers would be third). That would set up a Knicks first-round playoffs meeting with the Celtics, a rematch of their 2011 series in which the Knicks got swept. That year, injuries to Amar'e Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups hurt their chances.
FIRST-TIME STARTER: Solomon Jones, the Knicks' newest acquisition, made his season debut on Friday night. Woodson chose to start 6-10 Jones over Chris Copeland on Sunday to give the team more size against Pacers center Roy Hibbert.
"Solomon hopefully knows Hibbert a little bit because he was on that Pacers team a couple years ago," Woodson said. "He's a little bit bigger than Cope. That would be kind of a bad matchup for Chris starting out."
BEHIND ENEMY LINES: Coach Frank Vogel has led his Pacers team to the best 3-point shooting defense in the NBA (.325 opponents' 3-point percentage), but he's aware of the unique challenge defending the Knicks, who play smaller lineups with more 3-point shooters.
Vogel believes he has the right recipe to counter the Knicks' threat from downtown.
"It's hard to play five 3-point shooters at the same time," he said. "It's a very, very challenging style of play to guard against, but I think teams have made mistakes in trying to counter that with small lineups of their own, or changing what they do. We're going to try to do what we do; try to pose our style of play on them and see how it goes."
Vogel also shared his thoughts on Anthony, saying, "His shot-making is just off the charts."
"I think LeBron [James] kind of set a tone for all these elite scorers when he started shooting 60 percent every game the first half of the season," he said. "I think everybody else has sort of took it on as a challenge, like, 'I can shoot 60 percent.' Now Carmelo's doing it. ... He's making the right plays, too. He's playing winning basketball, and that's a big reason why they're doing what they're doing."
Vogel commented on his starting shooting guard's progression in his third season.
"Just his maturity. You don't hear about anything off the court like you did maybe his rookie year," he said. "And then his ability to go out and let his game sort of blossom. ... I think he's one of the best five open-court pushers in the NBA. Just the way he attacks, he's like a freight train, and his 3-point shooting has come, his ability to make the right play has come, his ability to not force the issue, so it's fun to watch."
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