Indiana Pacers (50-17) at New York Knicks (27-40)
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Tip: 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: Indiana -1.0
Now that the Phil Jackson-to-New York saga is official and most of the national media has moved past it – at least for the time being — there is a game to be played. Without further ado, the Indiana Pacers meet the New York Knicks for the third and final time this season.
It is the second time the Pacers face the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, but maybe not the last. New York is currently fighting for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference while Indiana tries to hold off Miami for the number-one seed. If all works out in the respective teams’ favor, Indiana would face New York in the playoffs for a second straight season.
Tonight also provides Indiana a chance to sweep the season series with a team so wrapped up in a media frenzy they can hardly focus on playing ball.
In the first meeting this season, the Knicks seemed destined to get a win over a Pacers’ team trying to rally (sound familiar?). Led by the early-season-MVP-candidate version of Paul George, Indiana managed to rally (sound familiar?) and escape The Garden with a 103-96 overtime win. George scored 35 points in that one, including three game-tying free throws with seconds remaining in regulation after getting fouled on a 3-point attempt by Iman Shumpert, followed by another nine points in OT.
When New York visited Indy, it wasn’t pretty for the visitors. Things got ugly in the first half as the Pacers continued to pummel the Knicks en route to a 117-89 drubbing in front of a raucous crowd.
Roy Hibbert highlighted the win by — AGAIN — blocking a Carmelo Anthony dunk attempt.
Nevertheless, tonight is different.
Indiana has not been playing its best basketball for a number of weeks, yet still sits atop the conference thanks to a weak strength of schedule and defensive mentality. On the other hand, New York is riding a desperation, six-game winning streak in hopes of squeezing into the postseason.
Priority number one is controlling Carmelo Anthony, as usual. Despite losing both games, ‘Melo has averaged 29.0 points and 12.5 rebounds in two matchups this season against the Pacers. He is always a force to be reckoned with and Paul George will undoubtedly have his hands full on defense (sound familiar?).
Indy could use a quality win, and coming up on top in New York would be just that even if the Knicks have a sub-.500 record. Someone has to step up and end their winning streak, but not so sure it will be the Pacers tonight.
Prediction: Knicks prevail in another close one, 102-99
Tags: Indiana Pacers