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Now that the Knicks and Pacers series is down to a best of five, with Indiana having more remaining home games than the Knicks. How do you predict the series plays out?
Joe Caporoso - Game 1 was scary for the Knicks, as they were out-worked by a more physical Indiana team who seemed to completely knock their offense out of rhythm. Yet, Game 2 and the 30-2 second half run was a nice reminder that the Knicks are a superior team in terms of both talent and depth. There hasn’t been enough evidence yet to convince me to change my original prediction of the Knicks in six games. They’ve gotten to 1-1 with basically nothing from JR Smith and Tyson Chandler. Those two have to start playing better eventually, right? RIGHT?
Chris Celletti - The Pacers are an irritating team. It’s a compliment, really. As much as it sucks watching them play, I can imagine it’s doubly sucky to PLAY against them. All of their players are two-way guys who do everything solidly but nothing spectacularly. I suppose Roy Hibbert is a pretty spectacular defender at the rim, but he’s not a huge force offensively on the block. Paul George is the Pacers’ closest thing to a superstar, but hes not yet a true go-to guy. These are reasons i think the Knicks will win this series, but I think it will go seven games. The Pacers are not going to go lightly, as evidence by Game 1 and the first 35 minutes of Game 2. They will be very tough to beat in their building. But the Knicks have the advantage in that they have the series’ best player in Carmelo Anthony. Let’s hope that his hot hand from the end of Game 2 gets him going. If it does, I think the Knicks win the series, but it’s going to be a real battle.
Chris DiGioia - With the Eastern Conference semi-finals match-up between the Indiana Pacers and the New York Knicks evenly locked at one game apiece, you can look at it two different ways. On one hand, the Pacers certainly did their job by splitting the first two games on the road, but on the other, the Knicks did a magnificent job answering the call with their backs against the wall. Going down in a series 2-0 before even hitting the road would have been detrimental for New York, and it’s vital they snag one in Indiana. If the Knicks fall down 3-1 when they return to the Garden for Game 5, it’s going to be extremely difficult to make a run on this strong, defensive-minded team.
Iman Shumpert has been off the charts for the Knicks of late, and his recent play has evened out the poor shooting of JR Smith. Smith is shooting around 30 percent from the floor since his suspension, so if he continues to struggle, Shumpert’s impact is that much more crucial. If Smith can retain his shooting ability we all know he’s capable of, coupled with the high-energy play of Shumpert, the Knicks are going to be very difficult to shake off.
The signing of Kenyon Martin has been a blessing for New York, as Chandler continues to put up mediocre numbers. As long as Martin brings the intensity we all know he has, the massive front-line of the Pacers will have their work cut out for them. On top of that, I believe Carmelo realizes this could be his best opportunity in his career to make a noise in the post-season, and I expect his play to improve daily, as he’s been in quite a shooting slump since before last night.
The Pacers are a hard-nose, no-nonsense squad, but I simply don’t see them keeping up with the Knicks scoring for a seven game series. This series can absolutely go the distance, and I don’t see it ending in at least less then six games, but I expect New York to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals to face the Miami Heat.
Matt Fritz - .We all know the Knicks need to do everything in their power to at least steal one of these games in Indy. For some reason, it seems as though at times they play a little better on the road than they do at home so far in these playoffs (game 3 blowout in Boston, and game 6 clincher in Boston). With that being said, I think it will be a much tougher task with these Indiana Pacers, with their overall toughness and length, accompanied by their relentless fans. Even though most people don’t want to hear it, I do think Amar’e coming back will help just because of his size and athleticism. He won’t be playing a whole lot, which is fine, but his addition will by no means hurt the Knicks in the rest of this series. I would also like to see Woody stick with Prigioni more at times. Just his spark and his aggressive defense is something this turnover-ridden Pacers team hates seeing. At the end of the day this series is going to game 7. I said prior to the series starting that this was going to be Knicks in 6, but with the Pacers shocking the Knicks on their home floor in game 1, this inevitably will be heading towards a game 7 at the Garden, with the Knicks coming out on top.
Kevin Smith - I’ve been defending the Knicks depth and veteran experience edge on the Pacers all season long, and adding Amar’e Stoudemire only solidifies those advantages. The lack of respect that STAT generally get in this city dumbfounds me, but I’ll save that rant for another day (Friday actually, stay tuned! Cheap plug, I know). He won’t log major minutes, but a little size and tenacity, despite his defensive deficiencies, is just what the doctor ordered. New York has been getting knocked around inside and can use any size they can get. The Pacers home court advantage evaporates if the Knicks can take just one of the next two, which might be easier said than done, but is by no means out of the realm of possibilities. To me, this series has seven games written all over it, and the Knicks have the guns to get by.
Tim Murray – When the Celtics went on their 4th quarter tear in Game 6 of the First Round, Knicks fans’ anxiety went through the roof; well, be prepared for that again as it seems likely that this series will reach a seventh game. The Knicks won Game 2, which appears to be the more important game to win as it is a game of adjustments that will be constant throughout the remainder of the series, however there are two things that make Knicks fans uneasy. The Pacers went 3-0 at home in the first round and that with Amar’e Stoudemire’s return there is no telling what may happen. I recently wrote an article stating that STAT’s return will throw off their chemistry however when their opponent’s are the Pacers it may be an exception. Size has been one of the biggest challenges facing the Knicks this series and STAT can be an extra presence down low. Regardless of how STAT’s return plays out, I see the Knicks winning the series. They’re just the better team and routed the Pacers last night with their second leading scorer struggling.