"You're going to miss his scoring, but it gives somebody else an opportunity to come up," Mike Woodson said before the game. "This is not a one- or two-man show on this team, and it gives other guys an opportunity to step up and make plays. That's what I want to see."
So what does that mean for Woodson's roster management?
The Knicks had balanced scoring in the first quarter in Game 3 -- all five starters scored -- and that continued throughout the game. Pablo Prigioni's and Raymond Felton's ability to get deep into the paint off of pick-and-rolls has been a key in the series. They're also getting defensive stops and battling for boards, and then pushing a faster, more effective pace than the Celtics.
Prigioni's play has really caught the attention of Woodson.
"Pablo puts a lot of time in the gym," he said. "I think the fact that he's watched a lot of tape and he's examined guys after the first go-around, he's grown. He's a totally different player now, plus he's getting more minutes, too, so that helps. And then when you're winning, he's been a big part of it. We couldn't be more happy with the play of Pablo because he's been great."
Pick-and-roll playmaking has also come from Smith. Now that he's sidelined, Woodson could call for Carmelo Anthony to operate more screen sets with Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin to facilitate more scoring and ball movement.
Melo will also have to continue to be effective making quick reads out of double-teams. Woodson has liked his passing in those defensive formations.
"Melo's been solid like that all season," he said. "He's seeing double-teams and guys running at him when he's isolated, and he's going to have to continue to sacrifice the ball. A lot of the players around him have benefited from it because if the ball's moving, they're getting wide-open looks. We've been pretty good in that area in terms of knocking down shots."
Chandler is also improving health-wise, gaining more strength from his recent flu. His increased movement offensively, rolling to the basket and running the floor to set transition screens and finish as a trail man, should help the Knicks in Game 4.
"He's getting better," Woodson said. "I mean, each game has gotten better from Game 1 to now. He's playing much better. We're not burning him in terms of minutes because Kenyon is right there, too, playing almost half the minutes. I've been trying to go with whoever's playing pretty decent down the stretch. That's who's been in the game."
The Knicks have shown this season they can cope with players out of the lineup. Can that happen again on Sunday?
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