If the season were to end today, the Knicks would take the No. 2 seed and the Pacers would have the No. 3 seed. They are both leading their respective divisions.
Head to head this season, they’ve split two meetings, each winning on their home court.
That’s in part because this aging team was getting tired. They looked slow on the court, and Anthony only had confidence in himself. The All-Star break couldn’t have come at a better time.
Meanwhile, Indiana has won six of eight and is best in the NBA in opponents' field-goal percentage. The Pacers have plenty of guys with long arms to get in the faces of shooters and who also have a knack for crashing the boards.
In order for New York to get back to its winning ways, first and foremost, it has to share the ball. The Knicks offense is a strong point, but against one of the top defenses in the league, it has to make that extra pass and get quality, high-percentage shots.
The Knicks are going to get up shots, but the biggest key is going to be rebounding.
In order to win, they have to control the glass. Both offensively and defensively, Tyson Chandler has to establish a presence on the boards. Another 20-rebound effort could be the difference.
Led by Roy Hibbert, who’s averaging 8.3 boards per game, the Pacers are first in the NBA in rebounds. Not far behind him are Paul George and David West, averaging 7.8 and 7.6, respectively.
The Pacers lead the league in field-goal defense, at 41.7 percent, as well as opponent points per game, at 89.9.
Because of the stingy defense that the Pacers possess, it’s crucial to get second chances to score. The Knicks won’t have much space to breathe all night and will need their forwards to dominate the boards.
We could see a defensive game all around, as the Knicks have flashed their ability to perform on defense. Iman Shumpert, the Knicks' best defender, will have a big role tonight amidst trade rumors.
New York has lost the last two times it has played in Indiana. We’ll see if the Knicks can rebound from that tonight.