Knicks-Pacers Game Four
CAN NEW YORK WIN A GAME IN INDIANA?
If the New York Knicks can't win a game in Indiana this week, then their season will come to an end. The Indiana Pacers stole home court advantage for the playoffs by wining Game One at Madison Square Garden. And, they certainly been dominant in the Hoosier State so far this postseason.
INDIANA AT HOME IN THE PLAYOFFS
Indiana (-7) beat Atlanta 107-90
Indiana (-6.5) beat Atlanta 113-98
Indiana (-7) beat Atlanta 106-83
Indiana (-5) beat New York 82-71
That's four wins, by victory margins of 17, 15, 23, and 11 points. Sure, New York is better than Atlanta. But, that was accounted for in the Vegas spreads. It's not like Atlanta was the Charlotte Bobcats! Yet, the Pacers won three blowouts that beat market expectations by 10, 8.5, and 16 points in that series, before almost doubling the spread against the Knicks this past Saturday Night.
And, that Knicks result extended a trend from the regular season in that particular matchup...
INDIANA AT HOME VS. THE KNICKS THIS YEAR
Indiana (-5.5) beat New York 81-76
Indiana (-4) beat New York 125-91
Indiana (-5) beat New York 82-71 in the playoffs
The Knicks did at least cover a spread at Indiana this year (by half a point). But, they haven't shown yet that they can win on this floor.
GAME FOUR: NEW YORK AT INDIANA
Vegas Line: Indiana by 5, total of 179.5
Indiana Leads 2-1
The market has been treating home court advantage as a whopping FIVE points in this series...with the hosts laying that number in each matchup. That's above what you normally see in the postseason. Given Indiana's strong road/home divergence in the postseason, it's justifiable to this point. Indiana isn't just 4-0 ATS at home in the playoffs, they'd be 4-0 ATS at home if all the lines were -10! They'd be 3-1 ATS if the lines had all been -14.
Worth nothing that the Over/Under fell off a table here. Saturday Night's number was 183 in Vegas. The game only reached 153 as both offenses shot poorly, or both defenses played great depending on how you look at it. The media tended to call it great Indiana defense but horrible Indiana shooting. Maybe the New York defense deserves some credit for only allowing 38% on two-pointers, forcing 23 missed treys, and forcing 17 turnovers!
The biggest factor from a handicapping perspective was that New York stopped shooting three-pointers. The Pacers guarded the arc with a passion, and the Knicks were smart about not forcing up bad trey attempts.
NEW YORK'S THREE POINTERS BY GAME
Game One: 7 of 19
Game Two: 10 of 30 (a lot of garbage time)
Game Three: 3 of 11
How could the Knicks only attempt 11 treys?! Indiana emphasized arc protection and dared New York to work it inside. The Knicks were unable to do so. If that storyline continues, then Vegas should have dropped the total about 8-10 more points!
The second biggest factor is probably rebounding. The team that won that category has won each game so far. And, Indiana won the category HANDILY in their two victories:
Game One: Indiana 44, New York 30
Game Three: Indiana 53, New York 40
If you believe that "defense and rebounding wins championships," then you can see how well-positioned the Pacers are to advance. They only have to win two of the next four games...knowing that they will get two games in friendly confines. And, they're likely to win the rebounding category handily at least two more times based on those numbers.
JIM HURLEY'S New York sources have been hard at work checking in on the Knicks' potential adjustments during the extra day off. You've probably read that some players missed practice Monday with nagging ailments or injuries. Was that a sign that there's little hope of a Game Three bounce back? Or was it a smokescreen designed to create overconfidence in Pacer Nation?
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