Friday, February 3, 2023
Sports Gaming Digest FREE Digital Sports Magazine Subscription

NBA Preview: New York Knicks at Indiana Pacers

It doesn’t take much to get contention-starved fans of the New York Knicks to start daydreaming about a return not only to annual trips to the playoffs but of the team’s first parade down Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in almost 50 years.

But as the Knicks proved again Monday night, the path to becoming a championship contender is not a linear one.

The Knicks will look to bounce back from a discouraging loss when they begin a two-game road trip Wednesday night by visiting the Indiana Pacers in a battle of Eastern Conference rivals.

Both teams were off Tuesday after playing at home Monday, when the Knicks’ three-game winning streak ended as they squandered a 15-point first-half lead in a 113-104 loss to the Toronto Raptors and the Pacers snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the San Antonio Spurs 131-118.

The loss dropped the Knicks to 5-2 — the best seven-game start for the franchise since the 2012-13 team opened 6-1 on its way to New York’s most recent trip beyond the first round of the playoffs.

The Knicks then tied a team record by missing the playoffs in each of the next seven seasons before Tom Thibodeau earned NBA Coach of the Year honors last year by directing New York to a fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference and a first-round loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

But despite their fast start, the Knicks have received plenty of reminders how difficult it will be to take the next steps.

New York frittered away a 13-point lead in a 110-104 loss to the Orlando Magic on Oct. 24, were pushed to double overtime after leading the Boston Celtics by 11 points in the fourth quarter of the season opener Oct. 20 and allowed the Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Hornets to cut double-digit deficits to a basket in the final minutes last Thursday and Saturday, respectively.

The loss Monday is sure to serve as a talking point for Thibodeau, especially heading into a game with the rebuilding Pacers.

“You can get a win, feel good and usually that’s when you get knocked down,” Thibodeau said. “You start feeling too good about yourself, you’re not going to have the right edge.”

The Pacers’ 2-6 record is their worst through eight games since 2014-15. But Indiana, which has suffered five losses by 10 points or fewer, finally broke through Monday, when it trailed just once — at 11-10 — and led by as many as 26 while maintaining a double-digit advantage for the final 29-plus minutes.

The victory provided Rick Carlisle a chance to exhale after a season-opening stretch filled with mixing and matching.

While Caris LeVert scored 16 points in 23-plus minutes in his second game Monday after missing the first six games due to a broken bone in his back, the Pacers were missing T.J. Warren, who hasn’t played since Dec. 29, 2020 following foot surgery, as well as Malcolm Brogdon (left hamstring) and Jeremy Lamb (left ankle).

Brogdon has missed the last three games while Lamb was sidelined with an injury suffered against the Raptors on Saturday.

“I thought this was the kind of game we needed, the type of game we need to play,” Carlisle said. “I would like not to give up 118 points, but we need to embrace this and keep working to get better.”


Related Articles

College Bowl Game Tickets

Latest Articles

123 Auto Parts