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Here are some thoughts about the Knicks-Pacers series.

It starts tomorrow!


On my mind today:

- This was a weird season series. The Knicks took that first game when the Pacers were still in their terrible first month of the season. They were still figuring out how to play sports without Danny Granger. The Pacers barely edged the Melo-less, Felton-less Knicks in Indiana in January, and neither J.R. Smith nor Amar'e Stoudemire played well in that game. The teams were at their completest in the February meeting, which saw the Pacers absolutely dismantle New York at home. That game was never close. Then the Knicks clinched their second seed with a pretty encouraging Chandler-less win over the Pacers in April (during the P&T meet-up). They forced 26 turnovers in that one.

- And Indiana was the league's third most turnover-prone team this regular season, so there's reason to believe that kind of performance is repeatable (perhaps not 26 turnovers, but a lot). The Pacers also don't force many turnovers.

- One of many reasons I'm sad the Knicks didn't sweep the Celtics is that Carmelo Anthony now has just one day to rest a still-sore shoulder (it sounds like it's been partially dislocated a few times, if that's a thing). And now he has to face David West, who is like the next evolution of Brandon Bass (Zubass -> Golbass) and liable to gnaw on that shoulder, and Paul George, who's a tougher defender than Jeff Green.

- That said, if Melo has the mettle to attack and draw fouls consistently, that could make a huge difference in the series. The Pacers' bench looks nearly as weak as the Celtics', and it doesn't even hit threes. As a team, the Pacers were 22nd in the league in three-point percentage this season (worse than the Celtics).

- When the Pacers do go with George on Melo, they'll probably have to do some weird mismatching and put West on Iman Shumpert. I feel much better about Shump's ability to punish that match-up than I did previously.

- Then again, didn't Woodson talk about possibly going big against the Pacers? I hope he doesn't do that.

- The injury thing goes both ways: Lance Stephenson turned his ankle Friday night and may still be hobbling a bit come Sunday.

- J.R. Smith and Lance Stephenson, by the way. Before J.R. was throwin' bows at Jason Terry, Stephenson was the target. That's bound to get rowdy.

- After watching Shump guard Paul Pierce, I am convinced he's qualified to defend people with the first name "Paul" and a last name that is also a first name in the postseason. I'm excited to see what he can do against George, who should pose more of a challenge off the dribble.

- The Pacers were the best team in the entire NBA this season in opponent three-point percentage. They held teams to 32.7 percent shooting from downtown and kept the Knicks (normally good for about 37 percent) at 22 percent in four games. Dicks.

- Man, I have no idea what to make of the potential Amar'e Stoudemire return. On one end, the Knicks look like they could use another offensive option. I don't worry about Amar'e ruining anything there, because their offense was pretty ruinous for significant stretches of the past series. They're bound to rely on some ugly, stagnant offense, and in such scenarios, it'd be nice to have a post presence. On the other end, I do worry about Amar'e hampering the defense. But he can't be worse than, say, Steve Novak at that end. Right? And the Knicks were fine defensively when Amar'e was paired with Chandler during the regular season (102.5 D-Rtg). And now they've got Kenyon Martin around to babysit defensively if Amar'e were on the floor without Chandler, so that's nice. Thaaaaat said, Amar'e took two full weeks to be at all useful the first time he returned from this surgery. The Knicks can't afford to watch him get his sea legs for two weeks. He has to be ready immediately. I don't know what the Knicks should do with Amar'e, is what I'm saying. Bring him along slowly and carefully, I guess? They're not gonna shelve him entirely (at least not later in the series. He's not gonna be ready tomorrow), and they can't just plop him back out there expecting things to work perfectly.

- I like Tyson Chandler on Roy Hibbert better than I liked Chandler on Kevin Garnett. Hibbert doesn't spread the floor as much, and Chandler has done a splendid job the past two years of contesting Hibbert away from the rim. The samples are obviously small, but Hibbert shot 4-12 outside the restricted area with Chandler on the floor this season and 7-18 outside the restricted area with Chandler on the floor last season. Obviously, another issue is letting Hibbert get free around the basket, but the Knicks need to worry about their perimeter defense pulling Chandler away from the rim more than they need to worry about Chandler's own man pulling him away from the rim.

- This is also important because Indiana-- for a limited offensive team-- is very good in post-up sets. I like the Knicks' chances of taking away one of the few things they're consistently good at. (I also fear the Knicks' chances of enabling things they're usually bad at, but whatever.)

- Actually, on that note, D.J. Augustin frightens me a little bit. Augustin is not especially good, but he can score a little off the dribble and the Knicks are likely to grant him those opportunities. George Hill can slice and dice 'em, too, of course.

- When the Knicks are running pick-and-roll, I think Hibbert's scarier than Garnett was. The Pacers as a team are every bit as good as Boston at containing the rolling man (they're third in the league, according to Synergy), so Chandler may still have trouble getting involved offensively (though Game 6 was encouraging). Hibbert also strikes me as more likely than Garnett to deter Felton's drives when switches occur on the move.

- I don't know if playoff/championship experience matters, but the Celtics surely held that edge on the Knicks in the first round. The Knicks definitely hold that edge on the Pacers in this round. You know, if there is such an edge.

- Comparing the Pacers to the Celtics again: Indiana's not gonna be as easy to dominate on the glass as Boston was. They're a very good offensive rebounding team while Boston was a very bad one. The Pacers are also better at getting to the line than the Celtics were and fouled less than the Celtics did in the regular season.

- I am both heartened by and scared of Mike Woodson after the last series and game. He showed a promising ability to adjust his team's strategy on both ends. He also showed a frustrating willingness to delay those adjustments and/or dismiss them at crucial moments.

- I feel like beating the Celtics was very good practice for playing the Pacers. I feel like beating the Hawks wasn't very good practice at all for playing the Knicks.

- Feels good to have home-court advantage. The Pacers aren't as bad a road team as the Celtics, but they're pretty bad. They just lost twice in Atlanta.

- Game 1 is tomorrow at 3:30. Games 2 and 3 are on Tuesday and Saturday (???). None of the games are on MSG.

These are the things I'm thinking. Y'all?