The injury-riddled New York Knicks (27-26, 9-16 away) travel to take on the Indiana Pacers (31-21, 16-7 home) tonight at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana, for what should be an exciting game between two Eastern Conference foes both looking to solidify their place in the NBA playoffs race.
Indiana on the one hand has continued to play great basketball this season, and is on a path to lock down home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Playing excellent ball especially at home, and excelling behind a stout defense that is allowing just 93.8 points/game, the Pacers will seek to build on a clutch 104-102 overtime win on Sunday against Houston, after getting a day of rest following 7 games in 10 nights and back-to-back games over the weekend. Winning 6 of their last 9 games has shown that Indiana continues to play well despite a hectic schedule, and coming back home with a rested squad will certainly give them a leg up against a tough opponent that has had their number so far this year.
New York on the other hand is simply trying to be a playoff consideration at this point, playing extremely well since the middle of March, but continuing to suffer the injury bug, which has plagued this year’s surprise stand-out Jeremy Lin, as well as their All-Star forward Amare Stoudamire. While that hasn’t seemed to effect the bottom line for New York recently, as they’ve won 9 of their past 11 games, in the grueling push to the playoffs in a lockout-shortened season, it’s almost certain that the Knicks won’t be able to keep up a similar pace without getting two of their top scorers back into action soon. For now though, it looks as if New York is starting to find consistency with Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Tyson Chandler in the line-up, with the three players finally showing an ability to win both the gritty, scrappy games, and the high-scoring run-and-gun contests.
In this match-up tonight, the Pacers will try to end a 3-game slide against the Knicks while at the same time attempting to keep pace of the Orlando Magic, who sit a half-game ahead of Indiana 3rd place in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers will have a leg up on New York via their depth, which has been impressive with 7 players averaging better than 9.2 points/game. The Pacers are big on the glass courtesy of the massive 7’2″ Roy Hibbert (8.8 rebounds/game), and have gotten increasingly more consistent play from David West (12 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Danny Granger (18.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg), the latter of whom is coming off a season-high 32 point effort against Houston on Sunday. Against a Knicks team that won’t have the depth especially in the front court, it’ll be essential for the Pacers to have good defensive contributions from Hibbert, West and Tyler Hansbrough tonight around the basket, who collectively make for a formidable and lengthy group inside. Forcing New York to resort to more shots from the outside tonight will give Indiana a solid advantage, especially as the Knicks are not good from beyond the 3-point arc (%31.5), and can struggle when unable to drive to the lane and get easy buckets.
For New York to have success, Carmelo Anthony will have to play a physical game in a tough head-to-head match-up against Indiana’s power forward David West, and find ways to penetrate the lanes and get better looks at the basket. Under the power forward role in the last two games, Anthony has shown a resurgence in form averaging 26.5 points and 8.5 rebounds/game, well above his season averages in both categories. However, against a big opponent like Indiana, Anthony will need help from his smaller guards, including J.R. Smith, Baron Davis and Iman Shumpert, each of whom are capable scorers but tend to suffer from inconsistent form. Shumpert, averaging 9.8 points/game on the season, comes in averaging 20 points in his last 3 games, and will look to bounce back off a poor shooting night against Cleveland (3-for-12, 10 points). Filling in for Jeremy Lin for the duration of the year, Shumpert simply must continue to have better scoring contributions, and also expand his role as a ball distributor. While Baron Davis has picked up the slack in assists, producing 5.1 per game (Lin was at 6.1 apg before his torn meniscus), Shumpert must also do better to get the ball moving to open Knicks players, especially considering the size of the Indiana Pacers in opposition. Without good movement and good open looks at the bucket, New York will have trouble stacking up head-to-head with a bigger, more physical Pacers team tonight.
Betting Lines for Indiana Pacers vs. New York Knicks at TopBet Sportsbook
The Indiana Pacers are a solid favorite on the money line for tonight’s match-up with the Knicks, getting -245 odds to win while New York sits at +205 underdogs. Indiana is 5-2 straight up in their last 7 match-ups at home, whereas the Knicks are just 2-5 straight up in their last 7 games on the road. However, head-to-head, the Knicks have won both meetings home and away against the Pacers this season, with a lofty 14.5 point margin of victory.
Against the spread, Indiana must cover the -6 points as favorite at home (-110 odds), while New York will get +6 points to play with at the same odds. The Pacers however haven’t been great against the spread at home, going 10-13 this year, and 24-28 overall. The Knicks also haven’t been great picks ATS, with a 10-15 record away from home and 27-26 altogether.
On the total points betting line tonight, the mark to stay within or beat stands at 191.5 points. Current betting trends at TopBet Sportsbook are showing upwards of %72 of wagers going for the over wager tonight, however with New York vastly improved on defense under new head coach Mike Woodson (86.3 points allowed in 11 games, 96.5 points allowed prior to his takeover), and Indiana strong on defense at home, the under wager on total points looks quite appealing, especially as these two teams stayed on the underside of total points in the last meeting in Indiana (a 102-88 New York win).