Pacers vs Knicks: Offense Will Be Key at MSG

Action Network NBA contributor Michael Arinze delivers his Pacers vs Knicks prediction for Saturday's matchup.

Pacers vs. Knicks Odds

Pacers Odds -3.5
Knicks Odds +3.5
Moneyline -152 / +128
Over/Under 234.5
Time Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Here’s everything you need to know about Pacers vs. Knicks on Saturday, Feb. 10 — our expert prediction and betting picks for today.

On Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, the Pacers and Knicks will hit the court for the first time after a busy trade deadline. For Indiana, its decision to trade away Buddy Hield (traded to the 76ers) benefited the team financially and in their long-term planning, with the Oklahoma product in the final year of an expiring $92 million contract.

The Pacers weren’t going to resign Hield, who had already begun to see his minutes diminish thanks to a plethora of young talent in Indiana.

As for the Knicks, their moves were all about the present, as they look to mount a legitimate challenge for an NBA title. New York strengthened its perimeter play by adding Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks from Detroit in exchange for Ryan Arcidiacono, Malachi Flynn, Evan Fournier, Quentin Grimes and two second-round draft picks.

The reality is New York jettisoned four guys buried at the end of their bench for two players more likely to play critical roles in their rotation moving forward.

This trade couldn’t have come at a better time for the Knicks because they’re currently battling injuries with forwards Julius Randle (shoulder) and OG Anunoby (elbow) and center Isaiah Hartenstein (Achilles) already ruled out. All-Star point guard Jalen Brunson (ankle) is also on the injury report and will be a game-time decision.

Given the lengthy injury report and the new additions to New York’s roster, this game might be more about who’s available to play than any Xs and Os drawn up by Knicks’ head coach Tom Thibodeau.

As a result, it wouldn’t surprise me if the game features a more free-flowing style of play than we’re accustomed to seeing with the Knicks.

Let’s get to our Pacers vs. Knicks prediction and pick.

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Pacers vs. Knicks Prediction

Pick: ALT total over 232.5 (-120)

Pacers Betting Outlook

Hield’s departure doesn’t strike me as a major loss for the Pacers. He started 54% of the games he featured in compared to 91% last season while playing fewer minutes per game (25.7 vs. 31.0) and scoring fewer points (12.0 vs . 16.8).

The emergence of Bennedict Mathurin makes it all the more likely that the Pacers to cope without Hield’s services. Although Mathurin is averaging slightly fewer points (14.6) than in his rookie season (16.7) a year ago, his perimeter shooting improved from 32.3% to 37%.

Indiana remains one of the more balanced teams in the league, with seven players scoring in double figures.

It all starts with their unselfishness, as the Pacers lead the league with 30.8 assists per game. Indiana’s elite ball movement enables it to still find high-percentage shots despite using minimal time on the shot clock.

Per TeamRankings, Indiana ranks first in Effective Field Goal Percentage (57.7%) and is currently second in pace, with 105.9 possessions per game.

Indiana does struggle in rebounding, as it’s 27th in this category, averaging 48.7. However, with Hartenstein inactive for the Knicks, the Pacers should have a better opportunity to control the glass and inject more of their tempo into the game.

Knicks Betting Outlook

The Knicks have made considerable strides with their midseason trades. Long before the trade market kicked into high gear, New York improved its defense by acquiring Anunoby from the Raptors.

To sense just how vital Anunoby has been for the Knicks, ESPN’s Chris Herring wrote that in December, before the trade, the Knicks allowed 124.4 points per game. Then, after the trade in January, New York’s opponents averaged just 100 points, resulting in the most significant month-to-month improvement for points allowed in NBA history.

Unfortunately, Anunoby is set to miss roughly three weeks after undergoing surgery to remove a loose bone fragment in his right elbow. And now, with Hartenstein also out, the Knicks’ defense could be a bit vulnerable.

I just wonder if the Knicks will take a back seat defensively and try and let their offense carry them to victory. After all, what’s the point of bringing in new toys like Bogdanovic and Burks if you’re not going to give them a test run?

Although the Knicks (14th) rank in the top half in 3-point field goals with 13.1 per game, Bogdanovic and Burks should push them closer to the top against other Eastern Conference contenders like the Celtics (16.2), Bucks (14.2) and Cavaliers (13.4).

Bogdanovic ranks 25th among players, shooting 41.5% from behind the perimeter, while Burks ranks 47th at 40.1%.

Inserting two players into the Knicks’ rotation, who average 40% or better from beyond the arc, should be a massive upgrade for the Knicks.

Pacers vs. Knicks Picks, Odds

While it’s not often that my betting model prefers a play on an over, this is one instance where it makes a ton of sense. Replacing Anunoby and Hartenstein feels like too tall of a task for the Knicks against an Indiana team that will look to push the pace.

It won’t help that the Knicks might not enjoy the same rebounding advantage we’ve seen throughout the season. Moreover, if you’re the Knicks head coach, it might make sense to play to your players’ strengths for this game until you can assemble a healthy roster.

This total opened at 231 and we’ve already seeing it as high as 234 at one sportsbook. Since my model projects the total at around 235.5, I’ll add a little insurance by playing the over with an alternate number of 232.5 at -120.

Pick: ALT total over 232.5 (-120)