Scouting the Indiana Pacers

The Indiana Pacers' Paul George, left, passes the

The Indiana Pacers' Paul George, left, passes the ball after tumbling to the court with Jason Kidd during the first half of a game at Madison Square Garden. (April 14, 2013) (Credit: AP)

About the Pacers

They allowed the second-fewest points in the NBA (90.7) and held teams to league lows of 42.0 percent shooting overall and 32.7 percent from three-point range. If Indiana can neutralize the Knicks' three-point shooting, it could be tough for the Knicks to advance. The Pacers also are the NBA's best rebounding team. They rely on their strong, often physical defense because they have trouble scoring at times. They averaged only 94.7 points in the regular season and scored fewer than 82 points twice -- including a 69-point game -- in their first-round series against the Hawks.

The starters

Indiana is big across the front line with versatile 6-9 forward Paul George, physical 6-9 forward David West and 7-2 center Roy Hibbert. In the backcourt, George Hill is an underrated point guard. Brooklyn's Lance Stephenson has improved all around and is another tough-minded, physical Pacer, but he can be emotional. His interactions with J.R. Smith will be interesting and will have the attention of the referees and maybe the league office.

The bench

The Pacers bring athletic, physical players off the bench, but their reserves aren't as good as the Knicks' subs. Tyler Hansbrough will frustrate some of the Knicks' frontcourt players with his all-out, physical play. D.J. Augustin is a quick point guard and Gerald Green is one of the best leapers. Jeff Pendergraph and Ian Mahinmi give Indiana more size and more fouls to lay on the Knicks.

Key players

David West: The muscular power forward will play Carmelo Anthony physically and try to disrupt him. Anthony originally hurt his left shoulder on a hard foul by West the last time these two teams met in April. Anthony reinjured his shoulder in the Boston series.

Paul George: The NBA's Most Improved Player opened the playoffs with a triple-double but was 2-for-10 in the series clincher against Atlanta. George is a microcosm of how inconsistent Indiana can be: It can look really good or really bad. The Pacers need more consistently good play.

George Hill: A smart player who came up in the Spurs' system and understands what it takes to win. He could make life difficult for Raymond Felton after Felton was barely challenged in the Celtics series.

Series history

1993 first round

Knicks won series, 3-1

Defining moment: John Starks head-butts Reggie Miller in Game 3.

Hero: Patrick Ewing

Goat: Coach Bob Hill fired

 

1994 conference final

Knicks won series, 4-3

Defining moment: Miller jawing with Spike Lee in Game 5 at MSG while hitting several long treys.

Hero: Ewing, series-winning putback dunk

Goat: Miller, series-ending air ball.

 

1995 conference semifinal

Pacers won series, 4-3

Defining moment: Miller's eight points in final 18.7 seconds of Game 1 at MSG.

Hero: Miller

Goat: Ewing, missed potential game-tying layup as time expired in Game 7

 

1998 conference semifinal

Pacers won series, 4-1

Defining moment: Miller hits a 3 with 5.1 seconds left to force OT in Game 4 at MSG.

Hero: Miller

Goat: Ewing, slowed by injury

 

1999 conference final

Knicks won series, 4-2

Defining moment: Larry Johnson's winning four-point play after a controversial foul call in Game 3 .

Hero: Allan Houston, scores 32 to clinch series

Goat: Miller, 3 of 18 shooting in Game 6.

 

2000 conference final

Knicks won series, 4-2

Defining moment: Reggie Miller's 41 points in Game 5

Hero: Miller

Goat: Larry Johnson, scored 11 total points in Game 5 & Game 6.Keys to the series

Keys to the series

1 Shouldering the load: Anthony already is banged up, and he will be the focal point of the Pacers' defense. If Anthony has an off series -- he shot 37.9 percent in three games against Indiana this season -- the Knicks need other guys to step up and score.

2 Point guard play: The Knicks dominated in this area against the Celtics, who didn't have a point guard. The Pacers have point guards and good perimeter defenders, so it might not be as easy for Felton to get to the basket. Indiana also should be able to take care of the ball better than Boston did.

3 Keeping cool: Both teams have hot heads, but the Pacers are the more physical team. That has been known to unnerve some Knicks, including Smith, who was suspended for Game 4 of the Boston series. In this series, the Knicks can't afford to lose any players.

Bottom line:

They split the four regular-season meetings, with the home team winning each time. Anthony was suspended for one game in Indiana. Overall, Indiana held the Knicks to 86.3 points in the four games and 26 percent shooting from three-point range. But the Knicks are the better road team overall and have the better bench and the best player in the series.

Prediction: Knicks in 7

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