Pacers vs Knicks: Game 1 Prediction, Odds, Expert Pick (Monday, May 6)

Pacers vs Knicks: Game 1 Prediction, Odds, Expert Pick (Monday, May 6) article feature image

Pictured: Tyrese Haliburton of the Pacers and Jalen Brunson of the Knicks for Action Network’s odds, picks, prediction for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Pacers vs. Knicks Prediction

Monday, May 6
7:30pm ET
Pacers Odds
-110o / -110u
Knicks Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Here's everything you need to know about Pacers vs. Knicks on Monday, May 6 — our expert prediction and betting picks for today's game.

Round 2 of the NBA Playoffs are upon us, and we have a matchup we’ve seen before. The Pacers and Knicks first played each other in the Eastern Conference playoffs back in 1993 in a series that sparked a rivalry that would play out six more times through the Pacers' NBA Finals run in 2000. It gave us iconic moments like a John Starks headbutt and ejection, the Reggie Miller “choke” sign, Miller’s eight points in nine seconds and the Larry Johnson four-point play — just to name a few. But we haven’t seen this matchup in the playoffs since the second round of 2013, when the Pacers finished the Knicks in six games, giving them a 4-3 lead in the head-to-head series record.

Now the No. 2-seeded Knicks have a chance to finish off the No. 6-seeded Pacers and even up the head-to-head playoff record. The Pacers won the head-to-head regular season matchup 2-1, but only one of those matchups featured the teams as presently constructed, and the Knicks won that game in Madison Square Garden, 109-105. Let’s dive into the matchup and see what value we can find in our Knicks vs. Pacers Game 1 preview.

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers have had a great offensive season thanks to their high pace and depth of offensive talent. Rick Carlisle played nine players more than 10 minutes in Indiana’s closeout game against the Milwaukee Bucks compared to Tom Thibodeau’s seven-man rotation in Game 6 of the Knicks' closeout victory Thursday.

T.J. McConnell, Ben Sheppard and former Knick Obi Toppin all averaged 17+ minutes per game in the previous series, but with the Knicks' injuries to Julius Randle, Bojan Bogdanović and a hobbled Mitchell Robinson, the Pacers have a clear depth advantage that could end up being an important factor if the series goes long.

Indiana’s pace of play is a good way to exploit New York’s lack of depth by tiring out its short rotation. The Knicks have three players in the top 10 in minutes played during the playoffs: Josh Hart (278.4), Jalen Brunson (262.6) and OG Anunoby (249.7).

Given the offensive workload for Brunson, I expect Indiana to run-and-gun in Game 1, but it’ll be up to the Pacers' role players if that results in points scored for Indiana. In Game 1 of the Bucks series, the Pacers came out flat despite a fast pace. In the Pacers' two losses, they scored 94 and 92 points, but in their four wins, they averaged 123 points. If the Pacers are going to win this series, they need to score, and score a lot. It’ll be up to the Knicks to stop them.

New York Knicks

The Knicks may have a depth problem, but it hasn’t been an issue so far. They closed out the 76ers in Philadelphia in six games thanks to the collective efforts of Donte DiVincenzo, Isaiah Hartenstein, Brunson, Hart and Anunoby — a starting unit that boasted a +15.1 Net Rating in the regular season, per Cleaning the Glass. But that wasn’t even the second-best lineup for the Knicks this season. Subbing out Miles McBride for Anunoby yielded a +33.1 Net Rating — the second-best five-man lineup in the league of any that played more than 200 possessions this season.

The Knicks' depth gets a bit sketchy from there. Robinson re-injured his surgically repaired ankle in the Philadelphia series, but he’s played through it all the same. Given how fast and stretchy the Pacers offense is, he might not be as much of a factor, although his offensive rebounding gives the Knicks a massive advantage. We could see more Precious Achiuwa minutes than we did in the Sixers series. He’s a negative offensively (-2.2 Offensive Estimated Plus-Minus, per Dunks and Threes), but his defense could be relevant against Indiana’s smaller bigs like Myles Turner and Isaiah Jackson.

The Knicks' rebounding and their ability to get easy buckets in transition because of their defense is key in this matchup. They don’t have much half-court offense outside of Brunson, so transition scoring and second-chance put-backs will be their best way — and the Pacers are exploitable in both areas.

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Pacers vs. Knicks

Betting Pick & Prediction

I lean to the Over in this matchup, and I think there are a few routes and game scripts that get us there. The Pacers had a 128.5 Offensive Rating in wins this season, highest in the league, while the Knicks put up 123.6 in theirs, which was good enough for ninth. Even in losses, the Knicks and Pacers ranked sixth and third, respectively, with the Pacers giving up the fourth-most points to opposing offenses.

I worry somewhat about the Pacers' side of things. The Knicks are rightfully favored at home and I expect them to hold home court at least to start the series. The Pacers' offense is excellent, but when it’s not clicking, it’s really not clicking and it would be a result of the Knicks defense. Indiana didn’t break 95 points in its two losses to Milwaukee and I’d worry about the Pacers keeping up their end of the over bargain.

I’ll take the Knicks team total over, removing that uncertainty and fading the Pacers' porous defense.

Pick: Knicks Team Total Over 111.5

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