NBA Playoffs: New York Knicks 2-4 Indiana Pacers

Down and out: The Knicks fall to Indiana

Down and out: The Knicks fall to Indiana in 6

The Knicks‘ long wait for an NBA Championship continued as the Indiana Pacers set up a Conference Final showdown with the reigning champions. New York almost threw away a 3-0 advantage in the first round against the Celtics before winning in Boston in Game 6 to clinch the series while the Pacers defeated Atlanta by the same 4-2 scoreline.

GAME 1: Indiana 102-95 New York @ Madison Square Garden

Indiana made a great start to their series with the Knicks by stealing the opening game on the road. Carmelo Anthony had a game high 27 points for the hosts while the Pacers had six players in double figures with David West leading the way with 20 points. The home side ended the opening quarter with the final nine points as Ray Felton and JR Smith netted triples to give New York a 27-18 lead. A run of six unanswered points gave the visitors the lead in the second and Paul George‘s 3-pointer made it 52-46 at half-time. In the third, the Pacers opened up a double-digit lead and finished the quarter in the ascendency to move 16 points clear at 81-65. ‘Melo‘ opened the fourth with the first six points and then added another basket soon after to take his tally to 20 points and reduce the Knicks‘ deficit to nine points. They closed to within six in the final minute but the game was beyond them as Indiana took a 1-0 lead.

Indiana lead the best-of-7-series 1-0.

GAME 2: Indiana 79-105 New York @ Madison Square Garden

New York bounced back from a disappointing defeat in Game 1 with a blowout in front of their home fans to tie the series. Anthony again top scored whilst adding 9 rebounds to his 32 point haul and the regular season scoring leader received support in the form of Iman Shumpert’s 15 points and 14 more from Felton. The Knicks made an 8-2 start and carried their early momentum throughout the opening quarter and Melo‘s basket made it 29-20 at the end of the first. The visitors managed to close within five points before the Knicks responded with the next 8 to see their lead peak at 47-34. However, New York then went scoreless for the final 3:46 of the half and the Pacers compiled a duplicate 8-0 run to again trail by five at the end of the second. Indiana kept up the pressure when play resumed and finally took the lead at 61-60 on a Lance Stephenson three. Anthony responded with five quick points and the Knicks finished the third well to lead 72-66 with the fourth to go. They then opened the final quarter with an incredible 20-0 run spanning over seven minutes to lead 92-66 with Anthony contributing 11 of those points. Quentin Richardson came off the bench to net consecutive 3-pointers to make it a 26-2 start to the 4th as the Knicks went on to seal an emphatic victory.

Series tied at 1-1.

GAME 3: New York 71-82 Indiana @ Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Indiana edged a low scoring game at home to take a 2-1 series lead after a double-double from Roy Hibbert led the way. George Hill opened the game with two 3-pointers before George followed with one of his own as the Pacers set a deceiving tone. Anthony‘s successful jumpshot meant that the Knicks trailed 18-15 at the end of the first. Indiana built a ten point lead in the second with an 8-0 run but the gap was back down to three by half-time as the Knicks were down 36-33. Hill and George started the second as they did the first as Indiana enjoyed the better of the play in the third, using a 9-0 run to establish a 58-44 run midway through the quarter. Amar’e Stoudemire was making his return from injury for New York and the NBA veteran netted a triple on the buzzer as the visitors now trailed 62-53. The fourth quarter was relatively comfortable for the Pacers as they maintained a double-digit advantage throughout the final period to take care of home court. Hibbert‘s 24-12 was supported by George‘s 14-8-8 while the Knicks were led by Anthony‘s 21 points.

Indiana lead the best-of-7-series 2-1.

GAME 4: New York 82-93 Indiana @ Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Indiana took care of home court to move within a game of the Eastern Conference Finals after a strong first half was enough to carry them to victory. George inspired an 11-3 start for the Pacers with six points before the Knicks responded with a similar run to tie the game. Indiana closed the first with a 9-2 run and led 23-16 after the opening quarter. The Pacers took control in the second with a strong start before with-holding a New York fightback to add an 13-2 run before Anthony ended the half with a jumpshot before the buzzer with the Knicks down 48-34. The lead peaked at 18 points in the third before the visitors managed to narrowly reduce their arrears by the end of the quarter, where they trailed 67-56. Chris Copeland and Smith combined to make it a single figure deficit but an 11-2 run from Indiana put the game beyond doubt. Smith netted a couple of late 3-pointers while Steve Novak also connected from downtown but the Pacers held the Knicks at bay from the free throw line.

Indiana lead the best-of-7-series 3-1.

GAME 5: Indiana 75-85 New York @ Madison Square Garden

New York extended the series in a must-win game at home to force Indiana to close out the series in Game 6. Anthony led the way with a 28 point haul and helped the Knicks into a fast start as they led 11-4 early on. The home side’s lead was cut to four by the end of the first where they led 19-15. Copeland netted a three in the second to make it a nine point lead but Indiana again narrowed the gap to six to trail 40-34 at half-time. The Pacers cut to within two points before the Knicks regained control and soon opened up a double digit advantage to take into the fourth. George made it a four point game with a 3-pointer but Anthony helped keep Indiana at bay and force another game with a ten point margin of victory. The Pacers were without Hill as George starred with a 23-6-6 display while Copeland helped the Knicks to an important win with 13 points off the bench in his first major contribution of the series.

Indiana lead the best-of-7-series 3-2.

GAME 6: NewYork 99-106 Indiana @ Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Indiana closed out the series at the second attempt to set up a clash with the reigning NBA Champions in the Conference Final. Stephenson had a career-Playoff high 25 points complimented by 10 rebounds while Hibbert had a 21-12 double-double as the Pacers defied the Knicks and Anthony‘s 39 point haul. After falling down 15-9 early on, New York recovered through Melo‘s 12 opening quarter points and a couple of triples from Pablo Prigioni although they still trailed 29-27 after one. The Knicks kept in touch until an 8-2 run gave the home side some breathing space and were still in control at the half, leading 55-47. Anthony then added 11 points to his growing tally at the start of the third before Shumpert caught fire with a trio of scores from beyond the arc in 12-2 run capped by a Smith 3-pointer that tied the game at 72. Shumpert then added another from downtown while ‘Melo’ went to 35 points with the game all-square at 81 heading into a crucial fourth. The visitors led at the halfway mark following a ‘JR’ triple but Stephenson stepped up with seven points in a pivotal 9-2 run which effectively sealed the game and the series.

Indiana win the best-of-7-series 4-2.

                                     Top 5 Players

  1. Paul George 19.5 ppg; 7.0 rpg; 5.0 apg
  2. Carmelo Anthony 28.5 ppg; 7.8 rpg
  3. David West 14.7 ppg; 7.8 rpg
  4. Roy Hibbert 13.3 ppg; 10.3 rpg; 3.2 bpg
  5. George Hill 16.2 ppg; 4.8 rpg; 4.4 apg
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Paul George confident ahead of clash with LeBron

Guard of honour: The MVP v the MIP

Guard of honour: The MVP v the MIP

Paul George is full of confidence regarding the Eastern Conference Final showdown with Miami Heat as well as his personal duel with LeBron James.

The Indiana Pacers’ forward will most likely match-up with the recently crowned League MVP but is not concerned about the daunting prospect.

George said after practice: “It will be fun! I always embrace challenges and I’m looking forward to it. It should be a good series and I’m more prepared this year.”

“I feel like I’m in the best of shape, my confidence is feeling great!” the 23 year-old added.

The 2012-13 season has already proved successful for George personally as he followed up a first All-Star appearance with the Most Improved Player award. The 6’8″ forward improved in scoring, rebounding and assists to propel the Pacers into the play-offs as the third seeds. His regular season improvements are as follows:

2011-12: 12.1 ppg; 5.6 rpg; 2.4 apg in 66 games (all starts)
2012-13: 17.4 ppg; 7.6 rpg; 4.1 apg in 79 games (all starts)

From Carmelo Anthony to LeBron James, it doesn’t get easier for George and his coach Frank Vogel is hoping his forward can do his best and contain the Heat star.

“(LeBron) is the best player in the world and Paul (George) just has to do the best he can, like he did on Carmelo. LeBron (James) will have some moments and go off but Paul just has to compete and not foul.”

Vogel emphasised: “We do not want to put these guys at the free throw line.”

George is averaging 19.1 points per game along with 8.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists in the Play-offs so far after victories over Atlanta and the Knicks in Indiana‘s first two games. The All-Star produced a 29 point haul in a 10 point win over Miami in January and the Pacers claimed the season series 2-1.

In last season’s post-season meeting, Miami defeated Indiana 4-2 on their way to their second NBA Championship but Indiana, like George, have improved this season and the Pacers star is hoping his team use their size to their advantage against the champions.

“We’re a big team, we can rebound and we can play physical basketball- it’s our bread and butter.”

The opening game of the Eastern Conference Finals is live on Sky Sports from 1:30 am tonight.

NBA 3-Point Contestants: EAST v WEST

The 2013 Foot Locker NBA 3-Point Contest takes place in Houston on Saturday 16th February and faces a different format this year. Of the six contestants selected, the final will pit the best of the East against the best from the West to be crowned 2013 Champion. Here are six players trying to earn that accolade along with their respective statistics:

Eastern Conference

Paul George  (Indiana Pacers) 115-298 3PT (0.386%)- 36th in the league; 9/13 3PT v New Orleans Hornets 21/11/12 (also Career-high)

Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers) 82-193 3PT (0.425)- 13th in the league; 5/5 3PT v Charlotte Bobcats 06/02/13

Steve Novak (New York Knicks) 96-215 3PT (0.447)- 3rd in the league; 5/7 3PT on three occasions (Most recent v Sacramento Kings 02/02/13)

Western Conference

Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) 149-333 3PT (0.434)- 2nd in the league; 8/13 3PT v Charlotte Bobcats 21/12/12 (also Career-high)

Ryan Anderson (New Orleans Hornets) 159-396 3PT (0.402)- 28th in the league; 8/13 3PT v Phoenix Suns 23/11/12 (also Career-high)

Matt Bonner (San Antonio Spurs) 37-83 3PT (0.446)- 4th in the league; 3/3 3PT on two occasions (Most recent v Brooklyn Nets 10/02/13)

Final Prediction: Steve Novak v Matt Bonner

Knicks' sharp-shooter

Knicks’ sharp-shooter

My Predicted Champion

My Predicted Champion