Note: This article was written and published after the conclusion of Game 1.
Somebody must have put me in a time machine and sent me back to 1993.
It’s the Knicks and Pacers in the NBA playoffs!
From 1993 to 2000, the Knicks and Pacers squared off in 6 playoff series, and forged one of the most exciting and intense rivalries in NBA playoff history. Gone in 2013 are Ewing, Starks, Miller, and the Pacers’ two Davises. Enter Carmelo Anthony, Iman Shumpert, Paul George, and Roy Hibbert.
While the players are different, the intensity should match that of the mid-1990s series. At stake is a trip to the Eastern Conference finals, and perhaps the NBA Finals. A trip to the NBA Finals would be New York’s first since 2000 and Indiana’s first since 1999, the last two time, incidently, the two teams faced each other in the played.
The Knicks come into the series after a tough-fought series win over Boston. The Knicks grabbed a quick 3-0 series lead before Boston regrouped to force Game 6, and New York took the series 4-2. New York will continue to depend on volume scoring from Anthony and stout post defense from Tyson Chandler. Good dribble penetration and outside shooting from Raymond Felton and NBA 6th Man of the Year winner J.R. Smith will help the Knicks’ cause tremendously.
The Pacers also come off a 4-2 win over the Atlanta Hawks, the only road victory in the series earned by the Pacers in Atlanta in Game 6. The Pacers match up well with the Knicks up front, with big bodies like Hibbert, David West, and Tyler Hansborogh matching up to a depleted Knick frontcourt whose top player (Chandler) is not an offensive threat.
The Knicks have a decided advantage in the backcourt, however. Anthony, Smith, and Felton average 61.6 of the team’s 87.7 points per game. George, P.J. Hill, and Lance Stephenson for average 41.8 of the Pacers’ 94.5 ppg.
The key to this series in perimeter shooting. If the Knicks struggle from the outside, the Pacer will win the series. If Anthony and Smith are making mid-range and 3-point shots, the Pacers will have to live up to their nickname and keep pace from the outside. Having already seen Game 1, I won’t take the easy way out on the prediction.
Game7Dads predicts: Knicks in 7.