Not Many Baskets in the Garden
Round Two of the NBA playoffs get underway Sunday with the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder first up from Oklahoma City.
But it's the next game in which I will have a vested interest, as the Indiana Pacers travel to Madison Square Garden to face the Knicks.
It's not as much the winner or loser I will be paying attention to, or who will cover and who won't. It's the pace I will be watching, and when these two meet up, that's usually not a hard thing to do.
Their four-game season series was littered with three physical, low scoring, and sometimes sloppy games and one outright fluke. That would be a 125-91 Pacer home victory in January. The Pacers even admitted to themselves it was just an off-night for the Knicks. I am throwing that one out of the equation all together.
Now, to the other three, which can be found through the Bovada data tool
on our Home
page.They ended with combined scoring totals of 164, 157, and 170.
Two of those saw New York win, as Indiana turned the ball over a combined 45 times (I did say sloppy earlier, right?). In the Pacer victory, they held New York to 34% shooting and a season low 76 points. Carmelo Anthony didn't play in that game, but I honestly don't think his presence would have sent that total well over the180 mark where today's needs to go.
Now that we've established a (mostly) low scoring trend in recent series, lets look at the Knicks by themselves with some numbers from their last 10 games (going back to their last 4 games if the regular season):
Opponent avg ppg: 86.2
Knicks highest scoring game: 92
Games over/under: 2/8
They're the kind of numbers that make you think it's the reincarnation if Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, and John Starks. Instead, it's the Knicks slowing it down, working the shot clock, and forcing opponents to do likewise.
The same can be said for Indiana, holding Atlanta to 83 and 73 in the final two games of their series. They also held the Knicks to 37% shooting in their four regular-season contests.
Anthony is dealing with a sore shoulder and, at one point, missed 19 straight 3-pointers in the Boston series. The Knicks' sharp-shooting reserve, Steve Novak, is likely to miss this game with an injury as well, only further helping players taking the under.
From a scoring and style point of view, this won't be sent to the Smithsonian. But for me, it's about picking a winner and making some cabbage along the way. I will do that by watching this one stay low.
My pick: Pacers vs Knicks under 182
Result ... Indiana 102 New York 95 total = 197 over covers
Click on a photo to enlarge.