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New York Knicks-Indiana Pacers Eastern Conference Semifinals Preview

It’s an excellent time to be a New York sports fan. The New York Yankees are winning and have a 23-13 record, and the New York Rangers and the New York Knicks are in the playoffs. After beating the Philadelphia 76ers in six games in the first round of the playoffs, the Knicks advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the second straight year and will play the Indiana Pacers. The Eastern Conference Semifinals begin Monday night at Madison Square Garden.

Series History: This series will be the eighth time that the Knicks and Pacers have met in the playoffs and the first time since 2013. The other six playoff meetings occurred between 1993 and 2000.

“It’s just a very intense matchup, that’s really the simple truth about it,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “There’s a lot of stuff with Reggie Miller for five or six years and I know in 2013 there was another matchup. We’re going to have to be very resilient and we’re going to have to be very together.”

The Pacers beat the Knicks 2-1 in the regular season. While the Knicks didn’t have Mitchell Robinson in the regular season, they will have him in this series as they will be without Julius Randle and Bojan Bogdanovic.

Jalen Brunson vs. Tyrese Haliburton

Brunson versus Haliburton will be the key matchup in this series. This will be a good matchup since both were All-Stars this season. Brunson was fourth in the NBA in scoring in the regular season, however he leads all players in the playoffs averaging 35.5 points per game. In the last three games, he has scored 40 or more points, becoming just the seventh player in NBA history with three-straight 40-point games in the playoffs. In three games against the Pacers this season, Brunson averaged 35.7 points.

Haliburton was the Pacers' leading scorer this season and led the NBA in assists. This season against the Knicks, he averaged 19.7 points and 13.3 assists. In the last three games, he averaged 19 points, 6.7 assists, and 4.7 rebounds. However, he is questionable for Game 1 Monday night due to back spasms. If Haliburton misses just Game One, it won’t hurt the Pacers, but if he misses multiple games, then that will be an advantage for the Knicks and hurt the Pacers.

Offense vs. Defense

The Knicks and Pacers have outstanding offenses. The key for both teams will be stopping the other team’s offense. Indiana has the highest-scoring offense in the league, leads the league in two-pointers, ranks second in the league in pace, and averages 16.6 fast-break points. They ranks in the top seven on fast-break points, points off turnovers, second-chance points, and points in the paint. The Knicks must stop Haliburton and make the Pacers fight the shot clock. Trying to force the Pacers into a shot clock violation will disrupt the Pacers' offense pace and make them struggle some.

The Pacers need to stop Brunson against the Knicks. Brunson has been the Knicks' best player, and he’s currently hot. If the Pacers can stop Brunson and make him struggle, then they will have a good chance of winning.

Prediction: I thought the Knicks series against the 76ers would go seven games, but it went just six. I think that this series will go seven games because the Pacers are a better team than the 76ers. I think that the Knicks will win because Brunson and OG Anunoby will be unstoppable.

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