Pacers vs Knicks

Game Preview: Pacers vs Knicks

Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021 at 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Pacers.com Game Preview presented by DraftKings

Matchup

After rounding out 2020 with a victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Pacers start the fresh new year battling a familiar foe, the New York Knicks. The Blue & Gold opened the 2020-21 NBA season with a 121-107 win on Dec. 23.

Indiana comes into this matchup boasting an improved offensive output thanks to head coach Nate Bjorkgren. Through five games, the Pacers rank second in the NBA in field goal percentage, shooting 51.1 percent from the floor. Most of this is due to the balanced scoring effort and unselfish play of the team. For Bjorkgren's offense to work, you have to be able to give up the ball and find the open man. Seven Pacers are currently averaging in double figures. Aaron Holiday, the eighth-most prolific scorer on the team, is also averaging 9.5 points per game.

However, Holiday should join the double-digit club soon. His playing time will surely rise after it was announced that T.J. Warren will be sidelined indefinitely after having surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot.

The Blue & Gold have also put up some stellar defensive numbers to start the season as well. The squad boasts the sixth-best defensive rating in the league, limiting opponents to just 104.1 points per 100 possessions. They are currently tied with the Boston Celtics for the second-highest steals per game average (10.8). Then, of course, there is the ever-looming presence of Myles Turner down low. Despite tallying just one block against the Cavaliers on New Year's Eve — the Pacers' only block of the night — the big man still leads the NBA in blocks per game (4.2). It appears the constant call of, "defense, defense, defense" from Bjorkgren during training camp is paying off.

For Saturday's game, Indiana will have to find ways to contain Knicks center Julius Randle down low. Randle is nearly averaging a double-double on the season while scoring 19.5 points per game and hauling in 9.7 rebounds.

Projected Starters

Pacers: PG - Malcolm Brogdon, SG - Victor Oladipo, SF - Aaron Holiday, PF - Domantas Sabonis, C - Myles Turner
Knicks: PG - Elfrid Payton, SG - RJ Barrett, SF - Reggie Bullock, PF - Julius Randle, C - Mitchell Robinson

Injury Report

Pacers: Goga Bitadze - out (right ankle sprain), Brian Bowen II - out (partial groin tear), Jeremy Lamb - out (left knee rehabilation), T.J. Warren - out (left navicular stress fracture)

Knicks: Immanuel Quickley - probable (sore left hip), Alec Burks - questionable (sprained left knee), Frank Ntilikina - out (sprained right knee), Dennis Smith Jr. - out (left quadricep contusion), Omari Spellman - out (sore right knee), Obi Toppin - out (strained right calf)

Last Meeting

Dec. 23, 2020: The Pacers started the new season with a 121-107 victory over the New York Knicks. It was a slew of similar faces that led the way for the Blue & Gold, as Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon, and Victor Oladipo had big nights.

Sabonis led the way with a career-high 32 points and snagged 13 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. Brogdon tallied 21 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, and two steals. Oladipo recorded 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting while grabbing four boards and dishing out four assists.

On the defensive side, Myles Turner tied his career high with eight blocks, as Indiana appeared to be in control throughout most of the game.

Noteworthy

  • The Pacers and Knicks have met a total of 182 times during the regular season. Indiana trails slightly in the series record, 90-92.
  • Indiana has won eight of the last nine regular-season meetings dating back to 2017.
  • Both Knicks guard RJ Barrett and Pacers rookie Cassius Stanley played under legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke University. Barrett played for the Blue Devils during the 2018-2019 season, while Stanley played during the 2019-20 season.

Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »

TV: FOX Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Pat Boylan (sideline reporter/host)





by Brendan Rourke
Pacers.com Contributor

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