Indiana has exceeded many pundits’ expectations so far this season. They are, however, coming off a loss to Philadelphia who took care of them, 121-110. They really struggled from the perimeter, only shooting 28.6% from the area to the Sixers ridiculous 50%.
That was really where the game was won and lost as they beat Philadelphia in the large majority of key areas: points in the paint (56-40), turnovers (12-20) and fastbreak points (12-10).
Despite the loss, Victor Oladipo continued his hot form, putting up 31 points, seven rebounds, five assists and a block. In his return from injury center Myles Turner had 11 points and nine rebounds in 24 minutes of playing time.
The Knicks were able to take care of the Suns with ease in their last outing, defeating them 120-107. Porzingis continued his ridiculous form to start the season by posting 37 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
While they were anything but hot from three (30.8%) they were much better from the field, shooting 51.7%. They were beaten on the offensive glass 20-9 but made up for it with their defensive rebounding which they won soundly, 40-27.
Three keys to the game
Making shots from the perimeter – The Pacers were simply outshot by the Sixers in their loss. The Knicks have a few players who can turn it on from three in Tim Hardaway Jr, Courtney Lee, Doug McDermott and of course, Kristaps Porzingis. Indiana will need to defend well from the perimeter while also making a decent amount of their own shots from the area.
Defense – Indiana has one of the best offensive ratings (108.2) of any team in the NBA; scoring has never been their issue. They also have one of the best true shooting percentages (56.8).
The Knicks aren’t known for their stellar offense so far this season though the play of rookie Frank Ntilikina has been promising. They will need more than him to step up and defend at a high level to stop the Pacers from continuing their great offensive form.
Stopping the Porzingod – Porzingis has elevated himself into the MVP conversation with his hot early season form. The Pacers have their own unicorn in Myles Turner who is working his way back from injury and can’t be expected to play huge minutes coming off a concussion.
The team as a whole will need to force him into uncomfortable spots on the floor and avoid his size and speed down low.
Matchup to watch
Myles Turner vs Kristaps Porzingis – This is a matchup I’m sure we’ll be watching for years to come. Both players are franchise cornerstones for their team. Both have youth on their side and an upside as high as their relative heights.
Both have great offensive talents but Porzingis has Turner covered on the defensive end. With Turner in only his second game back after injury he will have a huge challenge ahead of him taking on the Latvian superstar.
Indiana Pacers projected starting lineup
PG – Darren Collison | SG – Victor Oladipo | SF – Bojan Bogdanovic | PF – Thaddeus Young | C –Myles Turner
New York Knicks projected starting lineup
PG – Jarrett Jack | SG – Tim Hardaway Jr. | SF – Courtney Lee | PF – Kristaps Porzingis | C – Enes Kanter
Oladipo has had a sensational start to his 2017-18 campaign. His per game numbers have been equally good: 24.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and almost 1.5 steals. If he can get close to those numbers against the Knicks, then he’s your perfect pick from the Pacers squad.
As for the Knicks, it has to be Porzingis. How’s this for per game numbers? 29 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.75 blocks. His passing can improve as he’s only averaging an assist per game but with the other numbers he’s putting up, who needs to pass?
The Knicks’ winning form lately has made them marginal two-point favorites in this matchup. Definitely go for the Pacers to take it out or at least cover that spread. The total score is at 216 which seems high but both teams have regularly scored 110 points or above in their games this season so the over would be your best bet for the total.
New York have had a good run lately but have still been up and down with their form. The Pacers have been the same but slightly more consistent. Their overall depth and quality should get them the win in this one but it should be close. The Pacers take it out 112-106.
Catch this one on league pass, Fox Sports Indiana and the Madison Square Garden Network. Tip off is at 7.30pm ET at Madison Square Garden.
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