Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 5/6/13
The New York Knicks have a lot to be proud of this season as they not only held strong in a grueling Atlantic Division this year, but took down the veteran Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Now down a game to the Indiana Pacers and with just 20-1 odds of winning the NBA championship, they’ll have to find away to keep themselves relevant in the postseason. With Carmelo Anthony playing at the top of his game — enough so that one, lone journalist would cast an MVP vote in his honor, denying LeBron James’ unanimous victory — the Knicks know exactly what to do. The hard part, mind you, is actually doing it against a vaunted Pacers defense. While New York boasts several scoring options in Anthony, Raymond Felton and super reserve J.R. Smith, it’s Indiana’s depth that has NBA fans and oddsmakers up in arms. Whether it be superstar-in-waiting Paul George, big man Roy Hibbert, veteran presence David West or any number of extremely valuable role players like George Hill, Lance Stephenson or Tyler Hansbrough, the Pacers have plenty of hands on deck available to them against a comparatively short-handed Knicks squad. If the Knicks are to contend with them, especially without Amar’e Stoudemire and after dropping Game 1 at Madison Square Garden, they’ll have to find their own answers soon. The once-dominant STAT could make his return as early as Game 3, but unless his teammates can thrive in Game 2, that may be too late. In comparison to New York’s 20-1, the Indiana Pacers sit at 18-1 on the NBA futures. Given what’s in store for any Eastern Conference title threat, though — a date with the reigning champion Miami Heat — the forecast is a bleak one. While the Pacers have established themselves as a genuinely solid franchise and the Knicks have jumpstarted basketball in New York City, it’s James and the Heat who have the overwhelming advantage to win the NBA championship. Knowing that James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh wait in the wings for the winner of this Pacers-Knicks series, the Eastern Conference semifinal matchup will also serve as a test. Pay special attention to how each team jells and develops as a unit, because a series victory is a series victory. Simply winning this best-of-seven won’t be enough when their next matchup rolls around. This post is presented by Bovada
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