End a series with one rival, start one two days later with another.
After defeating the veteran squad of the Boston Celtics 4-2 in round one, the New York Knicks will take on a totally different animal in the young and hungry Indiana Pacers in round two.
The Pacers are led by one of the NBA’s up and coming stars, 2013 Most Improved Player Paul George, who was the leading scorer (19 PPG), assist man (5 APG), and rebounder (9 RPG) for the Pacers in their round one victory over the Atlanta Hawks..
The Knicks got out of round one, but it wasn’t easy.
After going up 3-0 they lost two straight but finished the Celtics off in Game 6. In the deciding game, the Knicks were up 26 but then the Celtics went on a 20-0 run faster than you can go on a bathroom break. I know it got me worried even though they won since now I know the Knicks are vulnerable to a big scoring run.
If Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jeff Green, and Avery Bradley can ignite a run like that, how will the younger and more athletic Paul George, Roy Hibbert, David West, and George Hill do?
Coming into the postseason, Knicks fans expectations were to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pacers are one of the better teams in the league and the Knicks will have to earn it. Carmelo Anthony says he is 100 percent but it seems like his shoulder is a little banged up.
J.R. Smith has to start driving and not settling for jump shots. Tyson Chandler looks like he is back to 100 percent; being very active on both sides of the floor meanwhile Raymond Felton is playing his best ball of the season. Iman Shumpert was the Game 6 MVP and hopefully it translates to success in the second round.
Game 1 is huge and can likely determine how the series will go.
Can the Knicks defend their home court or can the Pacers steal Game 1 in Madison Square Garden? Here’s everything you need to know:
When: Sunday May 5th at 3:30 PM EST
Where: Madison Square Garden in New York City
Betting Line: New York Knicks (-5.5)
When Knicks have the ball: NYK 87.7 PPG (13th in Playoffs), 89.3 PA (5th in playoffs)
When Pacers have the ball: IND 89.3 PPG (12th in Playoffs). Knicks 82.3 PA (1st in playoffs)
Key Matchup: Raymond Felton vs. George Hill
Felton had a field day against the Celtics, who lack a true point guard. He averaged 17 points and five assists in the first round and was the only consistent Knicks in the six games against the Celtics. George Hill is an above average point guard who will give Felton a totally different look he was used to in round one.
Felton will also be guarding him, which will be different than what he did against the Celtics, where he guarded Paul Pierce most of the time. Felton makes the offense very smooth and doesn’t stop the ball. Felton will have to continue his great play if the Knicks are going to advance.
The Pacers are one of the only teams that truly play like a team. You would say that George is their biggest name player but he isn’t no ‘Melo. However George has a great chance to make his name a household one if he can shine against the Knicks on the national stage.
The Pacers had four players in double digit scoring in the first round against the Hawks: George (18.7), West (16.3), Hill (15.2), and Hibbert (14.7).
Shumpert will be called upon to guard Paul George. Shumpert shined in Game 6 and showed his defensive presence along with his development as an offensive player. He will have to nag George and make the other Pacers beat the Knicks. Carmelo and Smith have to get back to attacking the rim and not be afraid of the Pacers bigs. Chandler and Hibbert should be a battle as Chandler is a great post defender and Hibbert is one of the better offensive centers in the league.
Game 1 will be a battle and after seeing the Knicks almost collapse in Game 6, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried. I think the Knicks take a deep breath and will play better since I feel like a lot of pressure if off them. They had the pressure of being the first Knicks team in over a decade to win a playoff series along with the pressure of not choking to the Celtics. I think the Knicks go back to playing the basketball that Mike Woodson has coached them how to play.
Prediction: Knicks 94, Pacers 88