This is a maddening, infuriating basketball team, these Knicks, a team that only sometimes plays tough and plays smart and does not understand the kind of commitment, the kind of will the NBA playoffs demand of you.

They are in a hole now against the Pacers because only in Game 2 did they play the way Atlantic Division champions are supposed to play, with heart and pride and passion.

They need to wake up, and they need to wake up now, and stop looking like some hastily assembled intramural team that assuredly makes Willis Reed and Clyde Frazier cringe, and Dave DeBusschere roll over in his grave watching Tyson Chandler and the boys turn Roy Hibbert into Wilt Chamberlain.

It is on Mike Woodson to wake them up and show us how an elite coach can grab his basketball team and shake it before an offseason of regret and recrimination rages all around.

Because the fact of the matter is the Knicks have lost four of their past six playoff games, and right now it is the Pacers who appear to be the younger, looser, hungrier team, while the Knicks, even with their roster of battle-tested veterans, have been alarmingly shrinking from too many occasions.

Woodson’s mandate from the day the Garden ignored Phil Jackson was to win a Game 4 on the road whenever the Knicks found themselves with their backs against the wall, and here it comes tomorrow night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

It appears he is facing the coaching challenge of a lifetime, because his Knicks:

* Play a brand of basketball that too often can be characterized as Dumb and Dumber. Is it too much to ask the players to know and follow the coaching game plan to trap Hibbert?

“We did a great job on Hibbert in Game 2 based on how the game plan was set up,” Woodson said, “and we got away from it somewhat [Saturday] night.”