It wasn't pretty, but the Knicks did what they had to do against the Boston Celtics in the first round. How will they fare against the younger Pacers?
As the two seed, it's only right for the Knicks to be the favorites over Paul George and the Pacers.
Right now, New York is -190 to move on to the conference finals, while Indiana is at +165 on most NBA betting odds boards. These teams split the season series 2-2, though the Knicks covered in three of the four meetings.
New York Knicks
Despite some terrible performances and questionable decisions – dressing for a funeral....really? – the Knicks took care of the Celtics in six games and will now turn their attention to the Pacers.
Forget Carmelo Anthony for a second. New York impressed most on the defensive end throughout the series. They held Boston to 82.3 PPG, limiting them to under 80 points in games one through three, and that was the key to their success.
Melo was darn good, though. He averaged 41.3 minutes per game and averaged 29.2 PPG and 5.3 RPG. He wasn't nearly as efficient (38.1 percent overall and 26.5 percent from three), but still found a way to get his fair share of points each and every game.
Raymond Felton (17.2 PPG, 5.3 APG, 4.0 RPG) and J.R. Smith (15.2 PPG) were the only other two Knicks to average in double figures throughout the series.
Elsewhere, the Knicks got some good minutes out of Iman Shumpert, Pablo Prigioni, Kenyon Martin, and Jason Kidd. That more than made up for a poor series from Tyson Chandler, who averaged just 5.2 points in the six games.
New York needs Chandler at his best if they want to contend with David West and Roy Hibbert inside. Those two caused a lot of problems for the Celtics and will try and be difference makers once again.
The Atlanta Hawks put up somewhat of a fight, extending the series to six games, but the Pacers locked things down in Game 6 to advance.
Indiana forgot all about their previous struggles in Atlanta and brought it in every facet during the 81-73 victory this past Friday.
Unlike the Knicks, the Pacers have much more of a balance when it comes to scoring the rock and that was proven true against the Hawks. Indiana had four different players who averaged at least 14.7 PPG in the first round.
Paul George led the way with 18.7 points per game, but that's not the only area he helped out in. He averaged 9.5 RPG, 5.0 APG, and 1.8 SPG against Atlanta.
West (16.3 PPG and 5.8 RPG) and Hibbert (14.7 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.8 BPG) made their presences known as well, while George Hill was terrific in Games 5 and 6. He had a 15/10/5 line in Game 5 and then dropped 21 points on the Hawks to help the Pacers clinch the series win.
It's certainly going to be interesting to see how Indiana matches up with New York. As we noted, the Pacers have tremendous height in the frontcourt and George is one of the best wing defenders in the NBA. Melo is going to need a killer series if the Knicks are to advance.
Game 1 Odds
For Game 1, the Knicks are favored by 5.5 points, while you can back a New York win on the moneyline at -235. If you like Indiana, you can side with them at +195 on the ML for your NBA picks.
The O/U is at 183. The OVER was 4-2 in Indiana's series win over Atlanta, but the UNDER hit in five of New York's six matchups versus Boston.