Pacers at Knicks

Game Preview: Pacers at Knicks

Tuesday, January 4, 2022 at 7:30 PM ET at Madison Square Garden

Pacers.com Game Preview presented by DraftKings

Matchup

With the official halfway mark of the season four games away, the Pacers (14-23) aim to right the ship when they take on the New York Knicks (17-20) at Madison Square Garden for the final time this season. With a win, the Blue & Gold would take the regular-season series over New York, three games to one.

As the league's health and safety protocols continue to heavily affect the Pacers' roster, trying to infer who is available to play is a guessing game. However, if the same group from Sunday night against the Cavaliers is available, fans can expect another tough fight from the Blue & Gold.

Duane Washington Jr. and Keifer Sykes earned career starts number two and one, respectively, in the Pacers' tough loss to the Cavs. Yet, both played remarkably given the circumstances. Washington finished with a career-high 20 points and committed just one turnover in 34:22 of game time. Meanwhile, Sykes finished with a career-high 10 points, five assists, and a +7 rating after playing for 35:04. Sykes did well on the defensive end, playing with intense energy throughout the game.

Then, there is the Pacer legend Lance Stephenson, who signed a 10-day hardship contract on Saturday. Appearing re-energized while playing for his former team, the nine-year veteran finished with six points and three assists in 12:34. The high-energy guard clearly illustrated what he brings to the Blue & Gold — a fearless competitor that is not afraid to do the dirty work.

With veterans such as Justin Holiday, Domantas Sabonis, and Myles Turner forming the core of healthy players, the new trio of Washington, Sykes, and Stephenson have stable companions and can continue to fight for permanent roster spots in the league.

Since winning three consecutive games from Dec. 25-29, the Knicks will host the Pacers while carrying a two-game losing streak. Playing without Kemba Walker, Julius Randle, and Derrick Rose for various reasons, New York succumbed to a 120-105 drubbing by the Toronto Raptors. The Knicks' lone lead was 5-4 with 10:23 left in the first quarter. Depending on the latest COVID-19 test results, New York may still be without their All-Star in Randle (19.3 points, 10 rebounds, five assists per game) when Indiana rolls into town.

Projected Starters

Pacers: PG - Keifer Sykes, SG - Duane Washington Jr., SF - Justin Holiday, PF - Domantas Sabonis, C - Myles Turner
Knicks: PG - Miles McBride, SG - Evan Fournier, SF - RJ Barrett, PF - Obi Toppin, C - Taj Gibson

Injury Report

Pacers: Goga Bitadze - out (health and safety protocols), Malcolm Brogdon - out (health and safety protocols), Chris Duarte - out (health and safety protocols), Isaiah Jackson - out (health and safety protocols), Jeremy Lamb - out (health and safety protocols), Caris LeVert - out (health and safety protocols), Kelan Martin - out (health and safety protocols), T.J. McConnell - out (sore right wrist), T.J. Warren – out (health and safety protocols)

Knicks: Mitchell Robinson – questionable (return to competition conditioning), Jericho Sims – questionable (return to competition conditioning), Nerlens Noel – out (health and safety protocols), Julius Randle – out (health and safety protocols), Derrick Rose – out (right ankle surgery), Wayne Selden - out (not with team), Denzel Valentine - out (not with team), Kemba Walker – out (sore left knee)

Last Meeting

Dec. 8, 2021: With 9:55 to go in the first quarter, the Pacers grabbed a lead which they would never relinquish. Chris Duarte tallied 23 points and six assists, Myles Turner added 22 and two crucial blocks, and the Pacers rolled to a 122-102 victory over the Knicks at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

All five starters finished in double figures and scored 97 points combined during the win. Along with Duarte and Turner, Domantas Sabonis added 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting and hauled in 11 rebounds for another double-double. Malcolm Brogdon notched 16, while Caris LeVert recorded 15.

The Pacers used a 12-0 run in the early moments of the first to erase a 4-0 Knicks start and led the rest of the way. After a series of three easy buckets in the paint, Brogdon capped the run with five straight before the 7:50 mark of the frame. The Knicks' cut the lead to 17-16 after getting help from RJ Barrett and Evan Fournier from beyond the arc. However, that would be as close as they would get for the remainder of the game. Duarte then tallied seven of a 12-5 Pacers run over a 2:40 span to stretch the lead to 29-21 with 2:29 left.

Late in the fourth, Turner sealed the deal on the defensive end. A three from Obi Toppin with 6:25 left kept the Knicks within striking distance at 106-91. Turner tallied two swats to halt the Knicks' momentum in its tracks near the five-minute mark of the game. He and Sabonis then slammed the door shut with threes on the other end to polish off a fantastic night in Indianapolis.

Noteworthy

  • Both sides have protected homecourt in the series. Indiana picked up 111-98 and 122-102 victories at Gainbridge Fieldhouse while the Knicks conquered the Pacers in a 94-82 slugfest on Nov 15.
  • Indiana has lost two straight at Madison Square Garden with its last win at MSG coming nearly one year ago (Feb. 21, 2020).
  • Myles Turner is averaging 16.7 points and 2.3 blocks in three games against the Knicks this season. He has finished with more than 20 points twice.

Tickets

The Pacers return to Gainbridge Fieldhouse to host Kevin Durant, James Harden, and the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, Jan. 5 at 7:30 PM ET. Find Tickets »

Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »

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





by Brendan Rourke
Pacers.com Contributor

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