The Indiana Pacers (27-14) have been magnificent this season, but the struggle has been real the past three games without big-man Myles Turner as teams are easily getting into the paint against Indiana.
Tonight at the New York Knicks (10-31), Turner is listed as questionable with a sore right shoulder. It should also be mentioned that Turner is also coming off a recent injury (broken nose) back on December 31 and is currently wearing a facemask.
When it rains it pours, especially for the Pacers’ defense. Without Turner the past three games, Indiana has been dismal allowing 123.7 PPG against them — opponents also shot 54.2 FG%. Shots up close were also at a rate of 62.7 FG%. Over the three game stretch, Indiana gave up a terrible 136 points in the paint.
Turner’s replacement has been Domantas Sabonis, who probably will start another game if Turner is out again. Sabonis hasn’t been bad on the offensive side and on the glass, however: This season, he’s averaging 15.0 PPG and 9.6 RPG with a PER of 24.23.
Overall, the Pacers started out the stretch with a 121-105 loss to the Toronto Raptors, and then split the first two with a 123-115 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Then a 135-108 blowout to the Boston Celtics happened — a game where they allowed a season-high 56.8 FG%, were losing by 31 at one time, and allowed the most points in a regular season game since a 140-112 loss at Denver. That was back on January 12, 2017.
There’s a bright spot on Indiana’s resume for this year, however: They’ve won 14 out of their last 18 games, and currently sit in the No. 3 position in the Eastern Conference. The problem is, the Pacers have allowed at least 115 points in four straight games.
On the Knicks’ side, they’re returning home to New York City after going 1-5 on their road trip — this ending in a 122-95 blowout to the Golden State Warriors.
For the season, New York has been depressing with only 10 wins thus far. In their last 17 games, the Knicks have gone 2-15. They’re also on a six-game losing streak at Madison Square Garden.
Rookie Kevin Knox, who’s been impressing NYK fans this season, will be in the starting lineup once again tonight — he’s coming off a 12 point performance on Tuesday against Golden State. Enes Kanter looks like he will be missing another game after missing practice on Thursday because of an illness. Luke Kornet (6.2 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.1 APG, 18.02 PER) will be his replacement.
The Pacers are 12-1 in their last 13 meetings against New York.
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NEW YORK KNICKS
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In the statistics, the Indiana Pacers have the edge in all of the categories, with the exception of a slight -2 disadvantage in the rebounding category. On the offensive side, both teams are nearly identical, with Indiana having the +1 advantage with 108.1 PPG — they also shoot an elite 48.1 FG% for the season. Their only disadvantage on the glass brings them a 43.4 RPG tally. But here’s where Indiana has New York: A +12 advantage on defense. They average a good figure of 103.1 PA this season — but remember, this is with Myles Turner.
NEW YORK KNICKS
On the offensive side for the New York Knicks, they sit right behind the Pacers with a 107.4 PPG mark — however, they have a -5 disadvantage in field goal percentage putting up a below-average 43.0 FG%. As previously mentioned, they do have a +2 advantage in rebounding sitting with 45.1 RPG, but it all falls apart with a -12 disadvantage on the defensive side of the ball. The Knicks’ defense has been outrageous this season allowing 115.8 PA — this adds up to a +/- of -8 for New York.
Sitting at 27-14 on the season, the Indiana Pacers obviously come in better than the 10-31 New York Knicks — but you can expect the Knicks to take advantage of Myles Turner not being in the paint. The Pacers need to shut-down New York quick, and need to use this as a tune-up game to get the inside defense cleaned up as the season continues.
Do I see that happening? Somewhat. I don’t view Luke Kornet as a major threat towards the Pacers, but youngster Kevin Knox could show some bright-spots in tonight’s game with the circumstances being what they are. If he can stay consistent, Tim Hardaway Jr. could also get in the paint to give the Pacers headaches. Emmaneul Mudiay, another one who knows how to score, could also get inside to give Indiana problems.
With New York being what they are, they’ll only be so effective, but I still see Indiana having problems in this game like they have the past three — we should have an entertaining game as a result. But overall, the Knicks just can’t keep pace with the talent of a Victor Oladipo. New York hangs tight, but Indiana pushes away in the end for the win.