Line: Knicks -7
Before the season, one of these teams looked like the favorite (or co-favorite with Boston) to establish themselves as the second best team in the Eastern Conference. In a mild surprise, that second seed is more likely to belong to the Knicks than the Pacers. The knee injuries to All Stars Danny Granger and Amar’e Stoudemire have impacted the teams in different ways. The Pacers are worse off and are forced into playing Lance Stephenson significant minutes, while the Knicks are able to play Melo at the four and space the floor better with more long-distance shooters (not to mention less Stoudemire means better defense).
Today’s line seems about right. The Knicks have been the much better team, but the Pacers blew out the Mavericks on Friday while the Knicks suffered their first loss of the season in Memphis. Zach Randolph was monstrous on the glass and grabbed eight of the Grizzlies’ 12 offensive boards. The rebound battle was actually pretty close (35-34), but it seemed like Randolph and his “magnetic” hands got all the important ones. The Pacers have a player in Hibbert who gets offensive rebounds at nearly the same rate as Randolph and could affect the game in a similar manner. And like Memphis’ duo of Randolph and Gasol, Hibbert and West are skilled big men (to a lesser degree than the Grizz guys) capable of creating shots for each other and their teammates when double teamed. However, I wouldn’t expect a repeat of Friday night up front. The Pacers combo provides more natural matchups for the Knicks as Melo can guard West rather than give up a half a foot like he did for Gasol, and Chandler should be able to neutralize the stiffer Hibbert much easier than the ruggedly graceful Randolph.
Unlike Friday night, the turnover battle should also greatly be in the Knicks favor again. We mention the Knicks turnover differential a lot on the site, and it bears mentioning that they lead the league in turnover differential at 6.4, while the Pacers are dead last at minus 4.1. That’s ten extra possession on average in favor of the Knicks. It’s an absurd amount to predict/expect, but even five extra possessions is a big advantage for the Bockers. The matchup looks good for the Knicks, but I’m taking the Pacers. The noon starts usually means sloppy basketball in the early going. I’m more confident taking the Pacers after Aaron and his perfect 4-0 record also highlighted the noon start and the Pacers advantage on the glass.
AC: 50 Masons on the Pacers
Aaron: 50 Masons on the Pacers
Bakeshow: 25 Masons on the Knicks
Mike: 50 Masons on the Knicks
SCorgan: 50 Masons on the Knicks
AC: 1,200 Masons (2-0 on picks)
Aaron: 1,150 Masons (4-0 on picks)
SCorgan: 1,147 Masons (3-1 on picks)
Bakeshow: 1,080 Masons (2-2 on picks)
Mike: 962 Masons (2-2 on picks)