New York Knicks at Indiana Pacers (-5, 179.5)
Pacers lead best-of-seven series 3-2.
For all the love that Paul George has gotten during the postseason, it is becoming apparent that George Hill might actually be the most important player for the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers hope to have their point guard back when they host the New York Knicks in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Saturday. Hill sat out Game 5 with a concussion and the Indiana offense noticeably suffered without its director.
Hill spent Game 5 in a darkened training room after taking an elbow from Knicks center Tyson Chandler in the previous game. He will need to pass the NBA’s concussion protocol in order to return to the lineup, and that could take some time. Meanwhile New York will try to keep the magic it found at home going in Indiana, where the Pacers have yet to lose in the postseason. The Knicks have been in a shooting slump during the entire series but came through on the defensive end by limiting Indiana to 36.2 percent shooting and holding their own on the boards.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT THE KNICKS: Carmelo Anthony failed to record a field goal in the fourth quarter during Game 3 or 4 at Indiana but came through late in Game 5 with four straight points that helped put the game away. The star forward went 10-for-28 from the field in Game 5 and is shooting 41.3 percent in the series. “We wasn’t ready to go home yet,” Anthony said. “We wanted to protect our homecourt. We let one slip away here on our homecourt (in Game 1) that put us in the position we’re in right now. But we’re just taking it one day at a time. We have faith, we believe, and we feel confident about this one.” Anthony got some much-needed scoring help from the bench, where both Chris Copeland and J.R. Smith scored 13 points. Smith struggled again to 4-for-11 from the field but Copeland hit a trio of 3-pointers in 19 minutes - his most playing time of the series.
ABOUT THE PACERS: Indiana is 7-0 in the postseason when Hill scores 14 or more points and 0-4 when he scores fewer. The 27-year-old guard reportedly suffered the concussion in the first half of Game 4 but still went on to score 14 points in the third quarter of that game en route to a game-high 26. But symptoms began to crop up the next day, and the Pacers and the NBA won’t take any chances. “He’s gotta pass the NBA protocol concussion test,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. D.J. Augustin started in Hill’s place in Game 5 and scored 12 points but did not have an assist in 39 minutes. George absorbed more of the ball handling responsibilities, in addition to being counted on for scoring production and taking the main defensive assignment on Anthony. “We gotta approach Game 6 as a desperation game,” George said. The All-Star forward scored a team-high 23 points in Game 5 but went 10-for-36 in Games 3 and 4 in Indiana.
* Knicks are 1-5 ATS in their last six games following an ATS win.
* Pacers are 5-0 ATS in their last five home games.
* Home team is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings.
* Over is 11-2 in Pacers’ last 13 games following a loss.
1. Pop star Rihanna suggested on Instagram that Smith has struggled because he’s hung over from partying. “I don’t follow that,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson told reporters. “It has no bearing on this game tonight.”
2. Indiana went 19-for-33 from the free throw line in Game 5.
3. New York G Jason Kidd was limited to five minutes in Game 5 and went 0-for-1 from the field. He is 0-for-17 in the last nine games.