New York Knicks at Indiana Pacers (-4, 183.5)
Best-of-seven series tied 1-1.
The Indiana Pacers have had three days to get over the mental hurdle of Game 2’s breakdown. The Pacers will try to avoid another meltdown when they host Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the New York Knicks on Saturday. The Knicks bridged the third and fourth quarters with a 30-2 run in Game 2 that buried Indiana and evened the series at a game apiece. Carmelo Anthony was at his best during the decisive spurt.
Anthony might be getting some more help in the form of Amar’e Stoudemire, who has been out since March 7 following knee debridement, is expected to play 10-15 minutes in Game 3. Stoudemire gives the Knicks another big body to bang around with Roy Hibbert and David West on the inside. Those two were a big part of Indiana’s Game 1 victory but could not stop the bleeding when New York started to get going in Game 2. The Pacers dominated the Atlanta Hawks in Indiana during the first round and had no problem bouncing back from some tough losses in that series.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ABC
ABOUT THE KNICKS: Anthony scored 16 of his 32 points during the decisive run in Game 2 as New York reached 100 points in a postseason game for the first time since 1999 with the 105-79 triumph. Anthony’s shooting was key, but coach Mike Woodson was quick to highlight the defensive effort. “The fourth quarter, we just defensively, we picked up,” he said. “We kept getting stop after stop and then we would rebound the ball and get it up and our offense began to flow like old times. It was kind of nice to see.” The scene was much different from Game 1, when the Knicks were outworked on the inside and outscored 59-38 in the middle two quarters. Stoudemire went through a full-contact four-on-four session on Thursday and will help off the bench.
ABOUT THE PACERS: Indiana lost Games 3 and 4 in Atlanta during the first round by an average of 16 points but had no trouble picking things back up in its own building. The Pacers won their three home games in the first round by 18.3 points and accomplished what they needed by taking a game in Madison Square Garden and grabbing homecourt advantage against the Knicks. Indiana committed 21 turnovers that led to 32 points in Game 2 and was outscored 52-40 in the paint after controlling that area in Game 1. “I like where we are,” Hibbert told reporters. “We were right there most of the game. But we gave them a sliver of hope late in the third, and obviously they’re so explosive. Obviously, a split is great.”
* Knicks are 1-4 ATS in their last five games following an ATS win.
* Pacers are 0-5 ATS in their last five Saturday games.
* Over is 6-0 in Pacers’ last six home games.
* Home team is 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings.
1. New York G J.R. Smith is 15-for-57 over the last four games.
2. Pacers F Paul George matched a season high (regular and playoffs) with seven turnovers in Game 2.
3. Anthony struggled to 7-for-21 from the field in his lone regular season appearance at Indiana.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Memphis Grizzlies (-5, 186.5)
Best-of-seven series tied 1-1.
The Memphis Grizzlies had to settle for a split in Oklahoma City after letting a Game 1 lead get away and look to go on top in the Western Conference semifinal series when the Thunder visit in Saturday’s Game 3. Memphis rebounded from the devastating fourth-quarter collapse in the opener to notch a 99-93 victory in Game 2. Oklahoma City needs to split the two road games in order to regain the homecourt advantage.
Thunder star Kevin Durant averaged 35.5 points, 13 rebounds and 7.5 assists over the first two games as Oklahoma City continues to adjust to not having standout guard Russell Westbrook (knee). Splitting the contests at home was disappointing to Durant, but he doesn’t see it as an obstacle that can’t be overcome in a seven-game series. “I don’t think we’ve fallen off track,” Durant said. “We dug ourselves a hole. We’ve just got to go in there and worry about the next game and take it a possession at a time.” Memphis went 3-0 at home in the first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers and has won 17 of its last 18 home games.
TV: 5 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT THE THUNDER: You would think Durant would be requesting more help from his teammates after his two big games in this series. But the player who has averaged 35.5 points over his last six playoff games is calling on himself to pick up the pace. “I always can do more,” Durant said. “I’ve got to put my teammates in better positions to score. I turned the ball over some where I thought I could have made better passes, shot some shots (where) I should have drove or should have got closer. But I always can be better.” Durant has struggled from 3-point range in the postseason. He is 3-of-11 against the Grizzlies and 28.3 percent in Oklahoma City’s eight playoff games.
ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES: Point guard Mike Conley is often the third wheel behind post players Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol but he was the definitive star of Game 2. Conley had 26 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists and drained the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:58 to play. His emergence as a go-to player looking to take pressure shots picked up after Memphis dealt Rudy Gay to Toronto in late January. Gay’s departure left the Grizzlies shy of players willingly to take the big shots and Conley hasn’t been shy about looking for the hoop in stressful situations. Conley is averaging 20.5 points over the last four games.
* Thunder are 7-1 ATS in their last eight road games.
* Grizzlies are 4-0 ATS in their last four home games.
* Over is 10-2 in Thunder’s last 12 Saturday games.
* Underdog is 6-1 ATS in the last seven meetings.
1. Memphis had 13 steals in Game 2, five from defensive standout Tony Allen.
2. Thunder reserve G Derek Fisher is 15-of-23 from 3-point range over his past five playoff games.
3. Gasol is averaging 22 points and shooting 59.3 percent from the field in the series.