The Indiana Pacers enter Game 3 looking for a way to replicate their defensive effort in Game 1 and to forget their defensive effort from Game 2. Frank Vogel’s team was blown off the floor at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night. They’ve had plenty of time for reflection and will have no excuses for not putting forward a tighter effort in Game 3.
Carmelo Anthony broke out of a scoring slump and knocked down 32 points on 13-26 shooting in Game 2. Anthony is a deadly scorer when he is on his game and the Pacers didn’t have a significant answer to his shooting ability on Tuesday. They’ll need to play him tighter and more physical in Game 3. Anthony also played physical on the inside along with the rest of the Knicks front court. Anthony picked up nine rebounds in Game 2, Iman Shumpert had a strong game claiming six boards and 15 points.
New York had a field goal percentage of just under 50% in Game 2, but they will struggle to replicate that in Game 3. An interesting story-line to watch on Saturday is the return of Amare Stoudemire. The veteran forward can add another offensive element to this team and has an impressive record that includes plenty of postseason experience as well. However, there are some serious doubts about the balance and way this Knicks’ team plays with Stoudemire in the line-up. There is a feeling that Anthony in particular defers too much when the big man is in the line-up.
Indiana needs both elements of its line-up to work more effectively. George Hill and Lance Stephenson need to handle the ball better from the back-court. They need to run the offense more effectively and they have to get at New York’s three-point shooters. That’s a lot to ask and not especially easy to do. However, Hill and Stephenson do have that ability. They do have that potential.
Meanwhile, Vogel’s front court, which did pretty offensively in Game 2, but had next to no defensive impact, has to play tough. Paul George knocked down 20 points in a reasonably good game during an up and down postseason for the Pacers overall. David West and Roy Hibbert both needed to be stronger on the inside and that could be even more crucial in Game 3 if Stoudemire takes to the court.
Betting Preview: Indiana (-4) vs. New York
It will be very interesting to see how this series progresses. The Pacers are significantly better on their home court and it won’t be easy for the Knicks to wrest a game away from them. It seems likely that Indiana will take Game 3 with a pumped up crowd, time to re-group and possible disruption to New York’s flow with Stoudemire back in the line-up.
The Pick: Indiana (-4) [5dimes.eu]
Writer Record Against The Spread: 15-8