NO TIME TO REST, PACERS/KNICKS GO TO BATTLE SUNDAY IN THE GARDEN
Both the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks finished off their first round series Friday Night...winning on the road against Atlanta and Boston respectively. They're both now back on the court in a different city less than two days later. Who's best positioned to thrive in those trying conditions?
Let's run the matchup through our gauntlet of key indicator stats. We used these to preview first round matchups two weeks ago. And, we'll continue to use them in our preview reports through the postseason. We appreciate how many of you visited regularly for the March Madness previews. The more you understand how various teams win (or lose), the better your basketball picks are going to be!
Let's jump right in...
WON-LOST RECORDS VS. .500 OR BETTER
New York: 23-20
Both teams were disappointments vs. quality. In fact, those are HORRIBLE records for teams seeded #2 and #3 in a conference. Both the Pacers and Knicks were very good at dominating bad teams. They just didn't step up in class very well. The combined record is almost right at .500...which means they belong in the class of "winning" teams, but are nowhere near the head of the class. That's very bad news for the next round where they're likely to see a well-rested Miami team.
OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY RANKINGS
New York: #3
If you've followed the NBA this year, you know this series is going to be a battle of extremes. New York has a very efficient offense triggered by made three-pointers and an ability to protect the ball. They do become more turnover prone vs. good defenses though, which could hurt their efficiency here (that's points per possession for the uninitiated). They certainly didn't look like a #3 offense vs. Boston. They probably won't in this series either unless they get very hot from long range. Indiana is typically sluggish on offense. They were inconsistent offensively in the Atlanta series...granting that their highs were better than many expected. Edge New York...but probably not by as much as those rankings make it look.
DEFENSIVE EFFICIENCY RANKINGS
New York: #16
Indiana had the best defense in the NBA according to this stat. Memphis ranked #2...and would probably scoot ahead of the Pacers if you adjusted for schedule strength. Still, great defense from the Pacers this year. They're a classic "defense and rebounding" team...which is a big deal in the halfcourt game you see in the playoffs. We have to say though that New York's defense was able to shut down Boston for long periods of time in the first round. And, they're coach is defensive minded. Edge to Indiana, but it might not be as big as those rankings suggest.
REBOUND RATE RANKINGS
New York: #17
See what we mean? Classic defense and rebounding for the Pacers. New York could only grade out as league average in these two key stats even though they played in the weak East. This could end up being the tie-breaker if the offensive and defensive differentials cancel out.
New York: #26
These teams played at almost exactly the same pace. That may surprise some of you...who think of Indiana as slow and plodding, but New York as fresh and entertaining. New York makes more three's, which means they're games are higher scoring. It's a dead heat in pace...which means a lot of slow basketball. Boston/New York was slow, and all six games were on "Under" numbers at the end of regulation. Over/Under performance in Indiana/New York will probably depend on New York's three-point prowess.
It's very clear in these numbers that Indiana is going to have the "defense and rebounding" edge, while New York will try to make up for that with long range shooting. You regular readers know that we're in the "defense and rebounding wins championships" school of handicapping. New York will hope that sharpshooting and home court advantage will be able to trump that.
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Back with you Monday for another second round series preview. We'll continue to stay on top of NBA Playoff developments through the week on these pages. And, we'll continue to make sure you GET THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!
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