- Game 1: Pacers 102, Knicks 95
- Game 2: Tuesday, May 7—7 p.m. ET on TNT
- Game 3: Saturday, May 11—8 p.m. ET on ABC
- Game 4: Tuesday, May 14—TBD on TNT
- Game 5: Thursday, May 16—8 p.m. ET on TNT If Necessary
- Game 6: Saturday, May 18—TBD on ESPN If Necessary
- Game 7: Monday, May 20—8 p.m. ET on TNT If Necessary
Key Regular-Season Game: January 10—Indiana Pacers 81, New York Knicks 76
I would expect at least one of these games at some point during the series. The Pacers defense is going to clamp down, New York is going to do the same when it comes upon a poor shooting stretch and we're going to be off to the grind-house.
New York's defense depended on Tyson Chandler in the January 10 meeting, and with Chandler still looking slightly shaky, it's possible that Indiana could have the upper hand.
This might not be the look of every game, but if one of the games later in the round slows down with nobody shooting efficiently, Indiana has a better ability to grind out wins than New York.
Biggest Advantage: Indy's Perimeter Defense
Indiana watched as opponents made an average of five three-pointers per game against them during the regular season. Not surprisingly, the Pacers held opponents to the lowest three-point shooting percentage in the NBA at just a shade under 33 percent.
New York made the most three-pointers of any team ever.
Something tells me that if there was a group that New York didn't want to run into in the first two rounds, it would be the Indiana Pacers.
X-Factors: J.R. Smith and David West
I'm assuming I don't need to go too deeply into why J.R. Smith is the X-factor for the Knicks. Smith is the 2013 Sixth Man of the Year, he's incredibly volatile and he can easily swing a game one way or the other.
Smith is always a threat to come out and hit a half-dozen three-pointers, but he can also take some truly horrible shots in the last few minutes of a game. He's not as much of a coin flip as he used to be, but there's definitely a risk-reward scenario with Smith.
Meanwhile, David West is perhaps the most intriguing player in this entire series. He's a monster of a man in the post, but he's also a reliable floor spacer.
West could be used as everything from a constant attacker in the paint to a mid-range decoy depending on the game.
Not only that, but he forms a nice duo with Roy Hibbert in the post and an inside-outside combo with Paul George.