KNICKS (27-40) VS. Pacers (50-17) | MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
When: Wednesday @ 8:00 PM
Watch on: ESPN, Comcast Sportsnet
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
The Phil Jackson Era has begun, and the Knicks’ first test comes against the first place Indiana Pacers. The Knicks are 4.5 games behind the eighth-place Atlanta Hawks, with 15 games to make up the deficit. It’s winning time.
The easiest thing to do is to start talking about next year at this point in time right now, but the guys on the team seem pretty confident about just staying focused and trying to make this push for the playoffs – Carmelo Anthony
Last time the Pacers came to town, Iman Shumpert was called for a “controversial” foul on Paul George that sent the game the game into overtime. The Knick lost. Then they traveled to Indy (and lost).
Tonight’s matchup is the Knicks’ first against a team over .500 in seven games.
If the Knicks are serious about making playoffs, we’ll see tonight. The current six game winning streak has come against East Coast bottom feeders (and the Utah Jazz).
Bogus Stat of the Night: All six of those games have been won by at least 10 points, the second-longest such streak in franchise history. The Knicks won eight consecutive games, all by a double-digit margin, during the championship 1969-70 season. This guy might remember those days:
Pacers Projected (PPG) // vs Knicks Suggested (PPG)
PG – Hill (10.9) // Felton (9.9)
SG – Stephenson (14.1) / Shumpert (6.8) !
SF – George (22.3) // Anthony (28.0)
PF – West (14.1) // Stoudemire (10.9) !!
C – Hibbert (11.2) // Chandler (9.2)
! – Lance Stephenson loves playing in MSG; every crossover and drive to the rim ends with a sheepish “you-should-have-drafted-me” grin . With Melo going toe-to-toe with Paul George, it’ll be up to Shumpert to use Lance’s uber-aggressive play against him.
!! – Amare Stoudemire has looked good in his last few games as a starter, and with fours days rest we’ll see how ready he truly is against the brain and braun that is David West. If Amare struggles to keep West off the offensive glass, it’ll be a long night.
Keys to the Game:
Sixth MEN – Tim Hardaway Jr. and JR Smith have shot the ball well of late. It’ll up to them to put points on the board against a Pacers reserve group that’s missing Andrew Bynum, C.J. Watson, and Donald Sloan. Hello, Chris Cop3lan_. See what did there?
Pace & Cut- The Pacers have the best interior defense in the league, thanks in part to the luxury of having three centers who stand at 6′ 11 (Mahinmi), 7′ (Bynum), and 7′ 2 (Hibbert). The only what to combat that size is constant movement and trusting teammates to make the extra pass and open shot.
Prediction: IND 87 – NYK 91
he Knicks will put up a fight in a playoff atmosphere. Indy seemed bored in its last few games, including single-digit wins over Philly and a 25-pt comeback against Detroit. Paul George has struggled with his shot the past few games (13-33 FG), and may still be feeling the effects of a back injury suffered early in March.