Knicks’ last NBA playoff series still haunts Mike Woodson

Former Knicks head coach Mike Woodson still has nightmares about Indiana middle Roy Hibbert’s block on Carmelo Anthony eight years in the past.

On May 19, 2013, Anthony drove baseline halfway by the fourth quarter in Game 6 of the second-round series vs. the Pacers. Anthony rose up for the slam and acquired met on the rim by the Pacers’ former elite massive man.

The Hibbert swat was a momentum-changer as the Knicks collapsed down the stretch in Indiana, have been eradicated from the playoffs and haven’t been heard from since.

Until this season. Until Tom Thibodeau, with Woodson as his assistant for a part of the season, sped to a 41-31 document. They compete on the Garden Sunday night time in their first playoff game since that Indiana evening.

“Oh yeah, I still see it in my sleep,” Woodson advised The Post earlier this week. “Melo was right there at the rim. Helluva play. That’s playoff basketball. It’s a game of inches in the playoffs. That’s why everyone has to be focusing for every key rebound, every key block like Hibbert’s. Game of inches.”

Knicks NBA playoffs
Pacers middle Roy Hibbert blocks Knicks ahead Carmelo Anthony in Game 6 of the 2013 Eastern Conference semifinals.
Anthony J. Causi

Woodson was a part of this yr’s magic as a Thibodeau assistant till March 28, when he left to coach his alma mater Indiana University. The Indianapolis native needs not one of the credit score for this fairytale however it’s ironic when he rejoined the group, the Knicks began successful once more.

Woodson, a former Hawks head coach, stored his home in Atlanta. He might be readily available for a minimum of one of many playoff video games in Georgia. He misses the Knicks.

“When you have an opportunity to work with a group of guys that were assembled, it’s helluva group of players — not just basketball but individuals,” Woodson mentioned. “When you build a team, you look for players you think might work well together on and off the floor. We generated that. We haven’t had issues off or on the floor. It’s a helluva combination when you’re trying to win.”

Woodson still is saying “we” and he’ll probably be voted a playoff share. And Woodson predicts the Knicks’ season is heading to a second spherical.

“I always was pleased everybody got to be on the same page,” Woodson mentioned. “And I got to think defensively will be the key to the series. After awhile, everyone’s going to know what each team is doing after a game or two. I think it comes down to who defends. That’s been the Knicks’ signature this year. Thibs put in a system and we bought into the defense. That’s what kept the team in every game. We didn’t get blown out of many games.”

The 54-win membership of 2012-13 was a magical journey, too, even when it contained a tragic ending. Anthony was the “head of the snake.” Julius Randle is prime gun now — a triple-double menace each recreation due to his unselfishness in spraying the ball out of double groups.

Randle posted six triple-doubles this season. Anthony has only one in his profession – none with the Knicks. However, Woodson mentioned the 2012-13 model of Anthony was his most unselfish. He completed third in MVP voting.

“Melo’s assists totals were great for that team,” Woodson mentioned. “Everyone thought Melo was an isolationist guy that year. If you want [Kevin] Durant, LeBron [James,] Steph [Curry] to have the ball in their hands, you do put your best players in that position. But we had weapons all over the place. You couldn’t leave anyone. Melo’s overall game increased. Yes, he scored. But he was better giving it up than he had been and was better rebounding the ball.”

Anthony averaged 28.7 factors – 5 factors increased than Randle’s common – however simply 2.6 assists in comparison with Randle’s 6.0. However, Woodson admitted Anthony had a number of hockey assists that season – the go that generated the help.

Woodson, although, mentioned this season’s Knicks are higher than the 2012-13 version within the class that issues. Those Knicks have been an older group – with level guards Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni.

”This workforce is healthier defensively than that workforce,” Woodson mentioned. “We put up some amazing numbers. Our defense was pretty solid. That team was, we put that team together — guys killed me early on about the older guys and it caught us at the end.”

Woodson effusively credits owner Jim Dolan for letting him break his contract. And he thanks Thibodeau for accepting him on the workers, regardless that they didn’t know each other personally. Knicks senior VP William Wesley made the hires of Woodson, Johnnie Bryant and Kenny Payne to Thibodeau’s workers.

“We were the new guys on the block,” Woodson mentioned. “I thought our group fit well together. And Thibs had a system he wanted. I take no credit. It’s all Thibs. He thought it was the only way we can win — build a defensive team to win a close game.”

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