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Game Preview: New York Knicks vs Indiana Pacers, 7:30 PM, February 1

Knicks seek to extend win streak as they face Pacers at MSG on Thursday.

NBA: New York Knicks at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Charging along on an eight-game win streak, the New York Knicks (31-17) seek to continue their success when they battle the Indiana Pacers (27-21) tonight at Madison Square Garden.

New York just completed their most successful January since 1994, finishing the month with a 14-2 record. Meanwhile, the Pacers won four of their last 10 games and their flaws are starting to show. On Tuesday, a 21-point fourth quarter doomed the Hoosiers in a 129-124 loss to Boston, while the Knicks defeated the Jazz 118-103 thanks to more third-quarter domination.

In their previous meeting, the Pacers beat the Knicks 140-126 when Tyrese Haliburton tied a franchise record with 23 assists. Haliburton is blowing minds in Indy, averaging 23.3 points, 12.5 assists, and 4.1 rebounds in 35 games this season. His per 100 average for assists is 17.7. I had to squeegee my glasses and read that a second time.

Indiana’s second-best scorer after Haliburton is the recently acquired Pascal Siakam. With the Midwesterners, Pascal has averaged 21.6 points and five assists in seven games. He also leads the team with 7.4 rebounds.

The Pacers currently rate as the league’s best for shooting percentage and points and rank fifth-best from deep. Specifically, watch out for small forward Aaron Nesmith (12.4 PPG, 3.9 RPG) on the perimeter tonight. His 46% shooting from downtown on 4.7 attempts is a career-best. He currently ranks sixth for effective field goal percentage (65%) and eighth for true shooting (66%).

Don’t let Nesmith distract you from Buddy Hield, though. “Bud” (to his friends, we must assume) is shooting 39% from deep on seven attempts per game. Hield’s also having his second-best year for effective field goal percentage, 58%. Defense, though . . . eh. Who needs it?

Center Myles Turner rounds out the starting squad for Indiana. He’s enjoying his second-best year for points (17.2) and field goal percentage (52%). Although his three-point shooting has dipped down to 34% this year, he will still heave up four attempts per tilt.

Both teams are coping with injuries. The Knicks will be without Julius Randle (dislocated shoulder), Mitchell Robinson (still, ankle surgery), and Evan Fournier (personal). When last checked, OG Anunoby was listed as a “game-time decision” (right elbow inflammation). Indiana will lack the services of Bennedict Mathurin (toe) and T.J. McConnell (illness).

Prediction

ESPN.com gives the Knicks a 58% chance of victory. Sounds fair. Expect a high-scoring game on Thursday night. The trio of ‘Nova Knicks scorched the hardwood on Tuesday, especially Donte DiVincenzo, who swished a career-high nine three-pointers. New York will need extra firepower tonight, too, if Indy’s shots are falling–and they usually do. But look for defense to be the difference. The Knicks are champs on that end, while Indiana currently holds the league’s 26th defensive rating. If the Knicks put the clamps on the Hoosiers and shoot at a decent clip, it’s a wrap. Knicks by +8.

Game Details

Who: New York Knicks vs Indiana Pacers

When: 7:30 pm EST, Thursday, February 1, 2024

Where: Madison Square Garden, NYC

Watch: MSG

Follow: @ptknicksblog