Current Standings: New York - 2nd Place Eastern Conference (4 games back of Miami), 1st Place Atlantic Division (2 games ahead of Brooklyn) Indiana - 3rd Place Eastern Conference (1.5 games back of New York), 1st Place Central Division (1 game ahead of Chicago).
Previous Meetings - Knicks 88-76 win on November 18th, Pacers win 81-76 on January 10th (Carmelo Anthony DNP due to Honey Nut Cheerios Suspension)
What To Watch For - The first game for both teams after the All-Star Break will be an important one in jockeying for position towards the top of the Eastern Conference. Both teams lost 2 of their last 3 heading into the break, although over the past 6 weeks Indiana has been playing much better basketball than the Knicks. Paul George is slowly asserting himself as an elite player and the Pacers are a hard-nosed team who plays quality defense and rebounds the basketball well. Knicks Head Coach Mike Woodson has claimed he will maintain the same starting line-up despite swirling debate about moving Jason Kidd to the bench. It will be interesting to see if Kidd can start finding his stroke again from the outside and if Ronnie Brewer begins getting minutes again to help improve perimeter defense.
Injury Update - Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby remain out for the Knicks with no return in immediate site. Indiana is rumored to be getting Danny Granger back soon but he will not suit up tonight.
Key Match-Ups - Look for Paul George to spend the bulk of the game guarding Carmelo Anthony, which will be a fun match-up to watch between two of the Conference’s best players. Anthony had a poor night shooting the ball a week ago against Toronto but his stroke looked fine this past weekend at the All-Star Game. George has been improving with every passing game and won’t back down from the challenge Anthony presents. Tyson Chandler will also have his hands full tonight with Roy Hibbert, who despite his offensive struggles is a strong defender and rebounder. Hopefully the Knicks bench can pick up the scoring tonight, they’ve gone cold as of late and need a strong effort in what should be a relatively low-scoring defensive battle.
Knicks Win If - They harass George into a poor shooting night as he tries to keep pace with Carmelo. The bench picks up their scoring and Tyson Chandler leads a strong defensive effort that keeps Indiana under 85 points.
Pacers Win If - Carmelo comes out cold and Jason Kidd still can’t knock his open threes. Hibbert, David West and Psycho T create second chance points and turn the Knicks offense into a stagnant, standing around mess.
YouTube Clip – More Bench Scoring JR!