Indiana are coming off an impressive 97-91 victory over the Celtics in Boston on Friday. The win came on the back off a 59-38 point first half, and 35 points from Victor Oladipo. With the win, the Pacers moved to 31-25 and sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings. They are just half a game off the Wizards in fourth place.
On Sunday they will host a Knicks team coming off an 88-113 loss to the Raptors. Michael Beasley scored 21 points, but they continued to struggle for offence in the absence of Kristaps Porzingis. They have now dropped behind the Hornets, and are in eleventh place in the east. New York have a record of 23-33.
Three keys to the game
Knicks’ form - Even before Porzingis’ ACL injury, New York were struggling for form. They have lost their past five games, and their offense has fallen to pieces. Subpar at that end of the floor to begin with, they have been the least efficient team in the league over the past five games, scoring a woeful 86.4 points per 100 possessions - seven points worst than the next best team.
Motivation - With Porzingis out for the season, the Knicks are likely to enter tank mode for the rest of the season and look to grab as high a draft pick as possible. In contrast, the Pacers are in a congested part of the standings in the east, where just three games separate third from seventh, and their young roster will be eager to prove they are the real deal.
Points from turnovers - Indiana are a top five team in the league at scoring in this way, mustering up 18 points from turnovers a night. The Knicks have struggled to stop this type of scoring, with their 17.8 points off turnovers allowed per game the seventh most in the league.
Matchup to watch
Tim Hardaway Jr vs Victor Oladipo - These two likely won’t spend a lot of time directly matched up against one another, but they will each operate as one of their respective teams’ most potent scoring options. Hardaway Jr is a capable scorer when he gets going, as evidenced by numerous 30+ point games this year, and for the season averages 16.4 points a night. His last five games, however, have been woeful, as he has failed to reach double figures in scoring, has shot at 21.6% from the floor and an incredible 7.6% from beyond the arc. Oladipo is having a career year, and has been rewarded with a spot in the all-star game on the back of a season which has seen him average 24.3 points on 48.8% shooting, 5.3 rebounds, four assists and two steals a night.
New York Knicks predicted starting lineup
PG - Jarrett Jack | SG - Courtney Lee | SF - Tim Hardaway Jr | PF - Michael Beasley | C - Kyle O’Quinn
Indiana Pacers predicted starting lineup
PG - Cory Joseph | SG - Victor Oladipo | SF - Bojan Bogdanovic | PF - Thaddeus Young | C - Myles Turner
Oladipo’s stats have been solid in his 13 outings against New York, but he has not performed at his usual level of efficiency in these games. His average of 16.8 points per game is right around his career mark, but they come at just 39.8% shooting, one of the lowest splits of his career. He has also connected on just 26.8% of 3-point attempts against the Knicks. Oladipo averages 4.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and a steal in these matchups.
The Knicks have been given an eight-point head start by oddsmakers in this one. This should be close, but take the Pacers to cover the line. New York are only two games into life without Porzingis, and simply don’t have the talent on the floor to challenge a very solid Pacers lineup.
Indiana should be far too strong for a New York side planning for the future. They have proven to be a well-rounded lineup so far this year, and as evidenced by their win against Boston earlier in the week, can match it with the best.
The Knicks are far from that. They have lost five games in a row, and with Porzingis out for the season will struggle to win games for the rest of the year. This will be no exception, and expect Oladipo to put in an efficient display to help Indiana to victory. They’ll run out 104-95 winners on the road.
The game will be broadcast locally on MSG Go and Fox Sports Indiana. Tip-off is at 5pm ET.