Sun, May 5 vs Indiana 3:30 PM ABC
Tue, May 7 vs Indiana 7:00 PM TNT
Sat, May 11 @ Indiana 8:00 PM ABC
Additional games TBD
Four Factors (from hoopsdata)
|Team||Off. Eff.||Def. Eff.||Own eFG||Opp. eFG||Own FT rate||Opp. FT rate|
|Team||Own TO rate||Opp. TO rate||Own ORR||Opp. ORR|
I’d say the reputations for both teams generally follow the four factors. The Pacers are the rough and tumble defensive team. New York is the free-flowing three-shooting offensive juggernaut, except when they’re not. Just looking at efficiency differentials, the Pacers are +5.9 (5th) while the Knicks are +4.7 (7th). The Pacers are better defensively. Though, at the risk of being petty, the offensive embarrassment that is the Central Division may pad their defensive numbers ever so slightly. No Central teams are above average on offense. But make no mistake, the Pacers are every bit as salty as the Cs on defense. However, they are worse than Boston shooting from the floor. They make up for it by elite offensive rebounding. They are also elite at keeping opponents away from second chance points.
The Season Series and Playoff Matchups
The season series, as Seth noted over at Posting and Toasting, was weird. The November and January games were played really before either team had quite settled in. Indiana saw virtually as much roster backfill like Ronnie Brewer, Solomon Jones, and James White as they did of Iman Shumpert. On the flipside, the one game where pretty much everyone was healthy the Pacers beat us like we stole something. If there is a takeaway from the four games—and I’m not convinced there is—it is that Indiana’s chance to win is to shoot significantly better from the field.
Consider that the Pacers are elite at offensive rebounding yet still below average from the floor. They take a lot of jump shots (68%) shoot them terribly (.42 eFG), and get progressively worse late in the shot clock, (according to 82games.com). So, they depend on their frontcourt to clean up a good many messes. Well, in this series the Knicks are also elite at cleaning up their defensive boards. (And that’s not just about Chandler, all the guards rebound well.) So, what does that mean? It means the Pacers must hit the shots they get out of their sets. Against the Knicks they can’t rely on cleaning up an offensive mess on the glass. New York doesn’t have to out-rebound Indiana. They just have to keep the Pacers from making a living on the glass. Add to this, the Pacers are a high-turnover team. Turnovers offset whatever Indiana does on the offensive glass to some extent. The Pacers have low turnover games occasionally, but their turnover problem is a roster flaw. They can’t do much about it with their personnel.
Suffice it to say, I’m confident about New York’s chances. Based on what we know about both teams, I’d say that Indiana has one realistic path to the series win (barring an out-of-nowhere series from someone unexpected). The Pacers must win the eFG% battle handily to win the series. To be clear, they very well might. I don’t mean to imply that Indiana can’t just go get buckets for four games. They most certainly can. It’s more that New York a) can go get buckets, and b) can also win by simply playing to type on turnovers and even-or-close-to-it in the other three factors. I expect the teams to play fairly even on a per shot basis, but New York has the personnel to limit Indiana on the boards and get extra possessions.