Knicks (52-27) vs Pacers (49-30)
330PM/ET on MSG
There’s a lot riding on today’s game. If the Knicks beat the Pacers, the Knicks will lockup the second seed in the East and home court advantage through at least the first two rounds of the playoffs. It’s as simple as that. But actually winning will be a much more difficult task. The Knicks are still shorthanded at center due to Marcus Camby, Tyson Chandler, Kenyon Martin, Amar’e Stoudemire and Rasheed Wallace being injured. Last week, they cut Kurt Thomas and signed Solomon Jones. While Woodson gave Jones some minutes, it was clear that he wasn’t ready to make an immediate impact. Since today is such an important game, it’s probably wisest to continue to give Chris Copeland the start and additional minutes.
Matching up against the Pacers will be a nightmare for the Knicks because of David West, Roy Hibbert, Ian Mahinmi, and Tyler Hansbrough, all big men. To combat that, the Knicks will have to push the ball and speed up the tempo of the game. Additionally, the hot one-two punch of Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith cannot afford to go cold today. Pouring on the points is a given, but they’ll also need another stellar rebounding performance in order for the Knicks to go toe-to-toe with the Pacers, the top rebounding team in the NBA.
In addition to the bigs, Paul George may be a problem for the Knicks. He’s both an offensive and defensive threat. In the past three games against the Knicks, he’s averaged 23.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. And on the other end of the court, he’s forced Melo into a .372 field goal shooting percentage earlier this season. This will definitely be the matchup to watch.
The Knicks will be tested, but the difference maker will be the roaring MSG crowd. The Knicks will extend their home winning streak to nine. Knicks win.
NY Knicks @ Charlotte Bobcats: Monday @ 7PM/ET, MSG