The frontcourt of the Indiana Pacers overmatched the New York Knicks inside by +42 rebounding margin (186-144) through the first four games of the series.
In Game 5, Chris Copeland added a new dimension to the Knicks’ offense and helped to largely neutralize the effectiveness of Roy Hibbert and David West.
“I wouldn’t call it a mismatch, but I think I can help us spread the floor and get those guys away from the basket,” said Copeland. “I’m just trying to make spacing better by being out there on the wing, give Carmelo (Anthony) his opportunities on the wings, and give J.R. (Smith) more free space to roam and attack.”
Copeland’s presence helped the Knicks cut the rebounding deficit (43-40) by pulling Hibbert and West away from the basket on pick-and-roll plays and by roaming along the three-point line along the wings in Game 5.
With Hibbert and West drawn away from the basket, it opened up space for Tyson Chandler to tap the ball out for second chance opportunities.
Raymond Felton was also able to navigate through the lane for loose rebounds and grabbed four offensive rebounds in Game 5.
Copeland has shot the ball well from beyond the arc in the playoffs (.571) and has provided a constant offensive threat when on the court.
“I think we had great spacing tonight,” said Copeland after Game 5. “We moved the ball really well.”
Coming into the series, Frank Vogel highlighted Copeland on the scouting report as a possible threat.
“We thought we’d see him in the series and we know he’s a terrific offensive player, a good player all the way around, and you have to honor him at the three-point line,” said Vogel.
After watching Copeland make three three-pointers, the Pacers must adjust to defending the stretch forward heading into Game 6.
“You can’t allow the attempt with him, he’s that good of a shooter,” said Vogel.
With Jason Kidd remaining scoreless since April 23rd, and Amar'e Stoudemire and Steve Novak limited due to injuries, Copeland knows his offense will be needed to help New York win Game 6 on the road.
“I’m going to stay aggressive, my teammates want me to stay aggressive, the coaching staff as well,” said Copeland.
“I think (Chris) Copeland did an unbelievable job,” said J.R. Smith. “He’s got a whole lot of talent and we have a whole lot of confidence in him. For him to be a rookie and come in and step up as big as he did is huge for us.”
Copeland is confident the bench can provide a repeat performance in Game 6 after combining to score 35 of the Knicks' 85 points.
“It’s going to take a team effort for us to get over this hump and get out of this hole,” said Copeland. “I think everybody knows what we have to do when we get out on the floor. It’s going to take more than the first five for sure. The guys on the sidelines are staying ready and going out and helping when we can.”