Here are a few things to keep an eye on during tonight’s Knicks-Pacers game:
Bad memories: The Knicks return to Indiana for the first time since suffering a season-ending loss at Bankers Life Arena in May.
Carmelo Anthony told reporters on Tuesday that the playoff series loss sticks with him. Tyson Chandler said in training camp that he used the second-round loss to the Pacers as motivation while training over the summer.
Both players struggled at times during the Indiana series, so you can make the argument that they enter Thursday’s game with a little extra motivation -– even though it’s just a regular-season game in mid January.
Anthony had a tough time in fourth quarters against Indiana last May. He was 2-of-14 from the field, scored six points, and had one assist with four turnovers in three of the Knicks’ four losses.
Chandler was outplayed by Indiana’s Roy Hibbert. He averaged 6.2 points and 6.0 rebounds while Hibbert averaged 13.3 points, 10.3 boards and 3.2 blocks.
Chandler sat out of the first Knicks-Pacers meeting this season. Indiana won the game in overtime after the Knicks missed a chance to close it out in regulation when Iman Shumpert fouled Paul George on a 3-point attempt.
Anthony had 30 points and 18 rebounds in that game.
Road rules: Playing at Indiana is one of the toughest challenges in the NBA right now. The Pacers are an incredible 19-1 at home and have won six of their last eight in Indy.
One key to tonight’s game will be how the Knicks match up against Paul George.
Anthony has guarded George for large chunks of Knicks-Pacers games in the past.
George had 35 points in the last Knicks-Pacers meeting. Twenty one of those points came in the fourth quarter and overtime. In the second-round playoff series last May, George averaged 19.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists, according to STATS, LLC.
Defense rests? The Knicks played stout defense during their recent five-game winning streak, holding teams to under 90 points per game. Playing in the second game of a back-to-back on Tuesday, they allowed Charlotte to go off for 108 points and shoot 50 percent from the floor in a bad loss.
New York will likely have to tighten up if it wants to match Indiana’s effort on defense.
The Pacers are holding teams to a paltry 88 points per game.
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