Indiana is favored by 10.5 points at home over New York
As weird as this is to say, the Indiana Pacers have served as a model of consistency over the last five years in a league that is constantly changing. The Pacers are once again in the thick of the playoff hunt. Their 31-17 record is the fifth best in the Eastern Conference and the ninth best record overall in the NBA. If Indiana continues on this roll, then they will finish the season with a winning record for the fifth year in a row. They have done this all while losing former head coach Frank Vogel and former executive Larry Bird. Not to mention, the Pacers have been without star player Victor Oladipo for most of this season and last season. Indiana has proven that they are one of the best run organizations in the NBA for quite some time now. That means that this game will be incredibly difficult for the New York Knicks.
With that in mind, the first meeting between these two teams was kind of surprising. New York ended up losing 104-103, but the game was even closer than the final score indicated, as hard as that is to imagine. Knicks’ Forward Julius Randle missed a free throw that would have tied the game with 0.1 seconds left on the clock, ultimately costing New York the game, but that is how close that one was to being completely different. Marcus Morris Sr. and Julius Randle were both good in that first matchup, combining for 41 points, but the Pacers had five players put up double-digit scoring figures which was too much for the Knicks when all was said and done. Although, this time around the game may be close, I think the fact that it is being played in Indiana may be the difference at the end of the day.
The Pacers have a three-headed monster that has been the root cause of most of their success this season. Malcolm Brogdon, TJ Warren, and Domantas Sabonis are all averaging more then 17 points per game. Furthermore, each player is a leader in an important statistical category for the Pacers: Warren leads the team in points per game, Brogdon leads the team in assists per game, and Sabonis leads the team in rebounds per game. It is clear that all three of these guys contribute more than just buckets. Also, Indiana has finally gotten back their best player, Victor Oladipo. Before his injury last year, Oladipo was named an NBA All-Star, averaging 18.8 PPG, 5.2 APG, and 5.6 RPG. It won’t be easy for Oladipo to immediately return to his all-star potential, but with Brogdon, Sabonis, and Warren playing like they are, there is no rush for him to return to superhuman form. He can ease back into the lineup and not have to be an all-star right away, and the Pacers can still be a playoff-caliber team
These are two teams trending in opposite directions. The Pacers have been excellent in their recent outings, going 8-2 in their last ten games which includes victories over the 76ers and the Nuggets. The Knicks have stunk recently. They have posted a 3-7 record in their last ten match-ups with two of those wins coming against the lowly Cavaliers and the Nets who were without Kyrie Irving when the game was played. This will be a classic 2019-2020 Knicks outing: Indiana will get out to an early lead and never look back, New York may make it close at some points and put the pressure on the Pacers, but Indiana’s scoring will just be too much for the Knickerbockers in the end. I especially think the return of Victor Oladipo will impact this game immensely. The Pacers will win and cover the 10.5 point spread.