The New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers prepare to face each other on Saturday night in a critical Game 6 match-up. It is quite possible that this clash will decide the Miami Heat’s Eastern conference final opponent. Indiana lead the series 3-2 and advance with a win in this game. Meanwhile, New York needs to find a way to steal a game on the road to keep the series alive. If the Knicks win this game then it is hard to see them losing in Game 7 in Madison Square Garden.
After looking a little loss in road games against Indiana, the Knicks found their way back to playing their sort of basketball in Game 5. They played a strong defensive game limiting the Pacers to just 75 points. They worked hard on the inside, but more importantly they defensively disrupted the running of Indiana’s offense, which was robbed of point guard George Hill, who was missing because of a concussion.
The blue print for Knicks success seems pretty clear. They have to play strong defensive basketball. Carmelo Anthony was lights out scoring 28 points. J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton also knocked down some points for depth scoring. Kenjon Martin and Chris Copeland played well off the bench with Copeland knocking down 12 points including 3-4 shooting from beyond the arc. Still, New York will know that producing that performance will be harder and more testing playing in Indiana’s home arena tonight.
While the Pacers should feel confident heading into this match-up with a dominating front line. They will be a little bit concerned about the loss of Hill, who is an under-rated important cog for this offense. D.J. Augustin is a very good, developing guard, but he isn’t the same player as Hill. Lance Stephenson is a great defensive player and solid offensive player, but he won’t run the offense in the way that Hill has. This back-court will have the pressure on if Hill isn’t able to return tonight and the pressure is on.
Meanwhile, Indiana will also have the pressure of trying to shut down New York’s weapons in a deciding game. Paul George hit 23 points on Thursday and he will need to be the closer again tonight. The Pacers do sometimes have trouble pulling away from teams in terms of their scoring and that will be a major concern against a team with Anthony in its ranks. If Melo is within striking distance then the game will still very much be on. The old basketball cliche is that you need a closer to be successful in the NBA playoffs.
Betting Preview: Indiana (-5) vs. New York
New York put in a strong effort for Game 5, but it was nothing more than a mirage. The Knicks won’t be able to compete against the Pacers in Indiana. George will keep Anthony quiet, Hill will probably be back and the front court of Indiana will strike back against a New York team that still hasn’t really shown enough desire to win a huge game like this one.
The Pick: Indiana (-5) [5dimes.eu]
Writer Record Against The Spread: 16-9