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Indiana Pacers vs. New York Knicks: Preview, Analysis and Predictions

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 09:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks shoots a foul shot against the Washington Wizards during their game at Madison Square Garden on April 9, 2013 in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IApril 13, 2013

The Indiana Pacers will look to keep their hopes of landing the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs alive on Sunday afternoon when they visit the Big Apple to take on Carmelo Anthony and the surging New York Knicks.

A win would preserve Indiana's slim hopes of earning home-court advantage through the first two rounds of the postseason, while a loss would lock New York into the No. 2 seed.

Sunday's meeting will mark the fourth and final matchup between these two division winners, with the Pacers having won the previous two in Indianapolis. Will Frank Vogel's squad make it three straight over Mike Woodson's Knicks this weekend?

Here, we'll get you set with everything you need to know for Sunday's potential Eastern Conference playoff preview.

 

Where: Madison Square Garden in New York

When: Sunday, April 14 at 3:30 p.m. ET

Watch: MSG

Live Stream: NBA League Pass (paid subscription required)

Betting Line: TBA

 

Key Injuries (according to USA Today)

Indiana Pacers

Danny Granger (Knee), out

 

New York Knicks

Tyson Chandler (Neck), questionable

Marcus Camby (Foot), questionable

Kenyon Martin (Ankle), questionable

Amar'e Stoudemire (Knee), out

Rasheed Wallace (Foot), out

 

Pacers Player to Watch: Paul George

At 6'8", Pacers small forward Paul George brings a lot to the table. Whether he's scoring the ball, rebounding or defending Carmelo Anthony on Sunday, his presence and production will be critical for Indiana.

George is averaging 23.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in three starts against the Knicks this season. He's also shooting 47 percent from the floor and 42 percent from downtown in those games.

Following some disappointing performances against Oklahoma City and Washington last weekend, George looks to be back on track, having scored a combined 35 points in Indiana's last two games. With Anthony lighting it up on the other end, George's offense will be just as key as his defensive play in this game.

If he can get free for a few three-pointers and knock down a high percentage, the Pacers could be in good shape on the road.

 

Knicks Player to Watch: Carmelo Anthony

This is a no-brainer. Carmelo Anthony has been on an absolute tear to begin April, averaging 38.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game on better than 55 percent shooting from the field in seven games this month.

But look for Indiana to slow Melo somewhat and force him into some tough shots for the first time this month on Sunday.

In two games against the Pacers this season, Anthony is averaging just 20.5 points and 7.5 rebounds on 37 percent shooting from the floor and a dreadful 20 percent from beyond the arc.

The league's leading scorer is on fire at the moment, making 40-point games look effortless, but if there's a defensive-minded team out there capable of slowing him, it's the Indiana Pacers. Only Cleveland and San Antonio have given Anthony more problems than Indiana over a multiple-game stretch this season.

 

Key Matchup: Knicks' Shooters vs. Pacers' Perimeter Defense

The matchup to watch for this weekend will take place on the perimeter, where the Pacers will aim to cool off the Knicks' hot three-point shooters.

In New York's only win in this series, it went 7-of-25 (28 percent) from beyond the arc. But in their last two losses, the Knicks have combined to go 9-of-48 (19 percent) from downtown. They'll need something in between on Sunday if they're going to have any shot of evening the season series at two games apiece.

Despite their recent struggles against Indiana, I like the Knicks to win this key matchup. The Pacers' defense has been lackluster lately, to say the least, surrendering over 100 points in three out of five games this month, and it should struggle to keep all of New York's sharpshooters under wraps.

Even if Indiana shuts down Anthony on the outside, there's still J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton, Steve Novak, Iman Shumpert and Jason Kidd it has to account for.

 

Prediction

The Chicago Bulls proved the New York Knicks can be beat on Thursday, but that was in overtime in the Windy City. The Knicks have won eight straight at Madison Square Garden dating back to last month.

Meanwhile, the Pacers have dropped three of four coming in, struggling on the defensive end in particular in losses to Washington and Brooklyn. Indiana still ranks first in rebounding and second in scoring defense this season, but it'll be taking on a squad that averages 108 points per game this April.

With New York playing at home with a chance to wrap up the No. 2 seed in the East on Sunday, look for the Knicks to send the Pacers to their fourth loss in five games.

Knicks 98, Pacers 91

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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