Jeremy Lin and Amar'e Stoudemire are both out of the lineup for the New York Knicks (27-26), and now comes the toughest test for Carmelo Anthony and Mike Woodson to date on Tuesday night.
With the Knicks currently sitting in eighth place of the Eastern Conference, the team is looking for an emphatic victory over the fifth-place Indiana Pacers (31-21), a team that is just 6-4 over its last 10 games.
New York is coming off of a solid 16-point victory over the spiraling Cleveland Cavaliers. The Pacers represent a much more difficult task, as Indiana is a far more well-rounded group than a young Cavs squad.
With multiple players who can score, the Pacers will present a challenge for a Knicks team that has begun to carve out a reputation as a defensive-minded club (fourth in defensive efficiency) under Coach Woodson.
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
When: Tuesday, April 3, 7:00 p.m. ET
Which team comes out on top?
Watch: MSG Network (Knicks), FSIN (Pacers)
Live Stream: NBA League Pass
Listen: 93.1 FM (Pacers), 1050 AM (Knicks)
Betting Line: Not available, according to Bovada.lv at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, 4/2
Key Injuries: Jeremy Lin (knee), Amar'e Stoudemire (back), Bill Walker (elbow), Jared Jeffries (knee)
What They're Saying
There is a feeling of doom and gloom surrounding the Knicks in the wake of the news that Jeremy Lin (knee) will undergo surgery, and this is a different team than we saw just a couple of weeks ago.
With Amar'e Stoudemire (back) also on the shelf for the foreseeable future, the Knicks need to make a statement about the direction of this team with the postseason around the corner.
As beat writer Al Iannazzone of Newsday writes, the Knicks have a tough road ahead.
With 13 games remaining, the Knicks hold a 2.5-game lead over Milwaukee for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. To reach the postseason, they'll have to navigate through a difficult schedule without Lin—and probably won't have Amar'e Stoudemire the rest of the way, either.
Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler are going to need to get support from players like J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Baron Davis along the way in order to remain in the postseason picture down the stretch.
Most Important Player to Watch: David West, PF Indiana Pacers
West brought a strong veteran presence into the Indiana locker room when he signed a two-year, $20 million deal, and he's put together six straight games of double-digit points.
Without Stoudemire and Jeffries in the lineup for the Knicks, New York could really have a tough time attempting to defend him.
The Knicks have been utilizing a small lineup outside of Tyson Chandler, but with Roy Hibbert in the middle for Indiana, Mike Woodson may be forced to explore unorthodox ways to slow down West.
Key Matchup: Carmelo Anthony vs. Danny Granger
Granger is looking to turn the heat up at the right time of the season for the Pacers, and he's making a strong push to be the lead man for his team.
He's scored 25 or more points in five of his last nine games, and Indiana is going to need another big effort from him offensively if the Pacers are going to come away with a victory.
On the flip side, Anthony has gone for 25 or more points in three of his last four games after not eclipsing 20 points in any game from March 14-24, a span of seven games.
With both Lin and Stoudemire sidelined due to injuries, Anthony will have to continue put the pedal to the metal when it comes to his effort on the offensive end of the floor.
Pacers 95, Knicks 86