NBA Thursday

f4645cf0-4b99-4b9b-892d-4834f9126a54-460x276INDIANA PACERS at NEW YORK KNICKS Line & Total: New York -5 & 179

The Knicks look to avoid elimination when the Pacers pay a visit to Madison Square Garden on Thursday night

Indiana took New York out of Game 4 from the opening tip, leading by 14 points at halftime and winning the game handily, 93-82, to go up 3-1 in this Eastern Conference semifinal series. In the Knicks’ two straight losses, they have averaged a horrific 76.5 PPG on 35% FG and 28% threes (11-of-40). J.R. Smith’s poor shooting was the story again in Game 4, as the league’s Sixth Man of the Year made just 7-of-22 FG, which actually increased his shooting clip to 28% FG (18-of-64) for the series. If the Pacers can keep forcing the Knicks to take tough shots without having to double team Carmelo Anthony, it is likely a matchup with the Heat awaits them sooner rather than later. The Pacers are now 7-3 (SU and ATS) in the playoffs, but are just 21-24 SU (22-23 ATS) on the road this season. New York is a strong 34-12 SU and 27-19 ATS (59%) at home, and is a solid 20-12 SU and 18-13-1 ATS (58%) following an SU loss this season.

The Pacers were not going to allow the Knicks to steal Game 4 from them and got off to a great start that the Knicks could never recover from. SF Paul George played an outstanding game for Indiana, nearly registering a triple-double in 45 minutes of play. He finished the game with 18 points (6-of-19 FG, 1-of-9 threes), 14 rebounds and seven assists. Although George’s jumper wasn’t falling, he was getting to the rim, getting his teammates involved and also bearing down defensively with two steals, two blocks and a game-high +16 rating. PG George Hill was the leading scorer for the Pacers in Game 4 with 26 points, knocking down 9-of-14 FG (64%), which doubled his 32% FG clip in Games 1-3. Roy Hibbert wasn’t scoring the basketball much on Tuesday with six points on 2-of-8 FG, but he did finish the game with 11 rebounds and three blocks. SG Lance Stephenson hit some huge threes for the Pacers at the end of the shot clock, scoring 13 points (5-of-13 FG, 3-of-7 threes) in 35 minutes while also grabbing seven rebounds. The Pacers team defense has been superb in the past two victories, and they out-rebounded the Knicks by 18 (54-36) in Game 4, while outscoring them 36-26 in the paint.

The Knicks ranked second in the East in scoring during the regular season with 100.0 PPG on 45% FG and 38% threes, but they have been ice-cold in this series, scoring just 88.3 PPG on 41% FG and 32% threes. SF Carmelo Anthony started off Game 4 hot with 24 points in the first three quarters, but he didn’t score a single point in the fourth. Anthony, who has 26.0 PPG on 41% FG in the series, was in foul trouble late in the game on Wednesday and couldn’t get it going to bring his team back. However, SG J.R. Smith is the one player who has struggled the most for New York. Smith averaged 18.1 PPG on 36% threes during the regular season, but during the East semifinals, he’s averaging just 13.3 PPG on 23% threes (6-for-26). The Knicks rely on Smith to be their second scorer and with him struggling, they haven’t been able to find another reliable source of offense. PG Raymond Felton has averaged just 10.0 PPG on 8-of-24 FG (0-for-2 threes) in the past two losses, but he did shoot well in the two games in this series at Madison Square Garden with 16.0 PPG on 62% FG, including 3-of-3 from long range. He’s also done a good job of protecting the basketball with 14 assists and just five turnovers this series. New York will also need SF Iman Shumpert to find his rhythm in Game 5 as well. Partly due to injuring his left knee in Game 3, Shumpert is 3-for-16 FG (0-for-6 threes) in his past two games, including zero points on Tuesday. But like Felton, Shumpert was much more comfortable shooting at home in this series with 13.0 PPG on 50% FG in Games 1 and 2.

SAN ANTONIO SPURS at GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS Line & Total: San Antonio -1.5 & 195.5

The inconsistent Spurs will try to finish off the pesky Warriors on Thursday night in Oakland when the teams meet in Game 6.

No team has won two straight games in this series, but San Antonio bounced back from a Game 4 collapse to crush Golden State 109-91 in Tuesday’s Game 5 at AT&T Center. Both teams shot the ball well, with the Spurs knocking down 52% FG and the Warriors hitting 47% of their shots, but San Antonio drained 10-of-21 threes and outscored its opponent 55-40 in the second half. The Spurs starting backcourt of Tony Parker and Danny Green completely outplayed Golden’s State starting guards (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson), outscoring them 41 to 13. Now the series shifts back to Oracle Arena where the Warriors are 32-14 SU (27-19 ATS), including 4-1 (SU and ATS) in the postseason. The Spurs have been a strong road team at 26-19 SU (23-22 ATS) this season, including 3-1 (SU and ATS) in the playoffs. But this veteran club hasn’t been great with just one day’s rest (26-29 ATS) and is also subpar after an SU win (30-32-2 ATS). Golden State is an average 27-25-1 ATS with one day’s rest, but is an excellent 26-13 ATS (67%) following an SU loss this season.

The Spurs offense has been wildly inconsistent in the past four games, shooting 39% FG in Game 2, 51% FG in Game 3, 36% FG in Game 4 and 52% FG on Tuesday. But the one consistency has been ball protection, as the club has committed just 10, 11, 11 and 10 turnovers during this erratic shooting span. Golden State has had a decisive advantage on the boards this series (+9.4 RPG), but San Antonio held the 38-36 rebounding edge in Game 5. PG Tony Parker (24.4 PPG, 5.8 APG, 5.0 RPG in series) has had a phenomenal series, and after shooting poorly in Game 4 on Sunday (6-for-17 FG), he found his stroke on Tuesday with 25 points (9-of-16 FG), 10 assists, two turnovers and a +14 rating. SG Danny Green (12.2 PG, 4.2 RPG in series) also had a strong effort with 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting, but he has been ice-cold at Oracle Arena this series, scoring just 6.5 PPG on 5-of-16 FG (3-of-12 threes). PF Tim Duncan (19.6 PPG, 11.2 RPG in series) posted his fourth double-double of the series on Tuesday with 14 points and 11 boards, plus a +27 rating, to more than make up for his subpar 40.7% FG clip over the five games. SF Kawhi Leonard (14.4 PPG, 9.0 RPG in series) has averaged nearly a double-double in the series, and was almost perfect from the floor in Game 5 with 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting, including a big-time dunk to propel his team in the third quarter. SG Manu Ginobili (14.2 PPG, 5.4 APG, 4.8 RPG in series) continues to shoot poorly this series (36% FG), but he’s hit 7-of-14 threes over the past two contests.

The Warriors’ offense has shot poorly at home this series with just 94.5 PPG on 38.7% FG, but has made a strong 35.1% threes at Oracle Arena. Speaking of shooting poorly, PG Stephen Curry (22.6 PPG, 7.0 APG in series) made just 4-of-14 shots (1-of-7 threes) for a playoff-low nine points in Game 5, to knock his percentages down to 41% FG and 37% threes for the series. His ankle injury has certainly been bothering him, as he’s made just 23-of-66 shots (34.8%) in the past four contests. SG Klay Thompson (16.8 PPG, 6.6 RPG in series) is also coming off his worst game of the series, totaling just four points on 2-of-8 shooting. After scoring 26.5 PPG on 51% FG in Games 1 and 2, Thompson has averaged just 10.3 PPG on 34% FG in the past three contests. The one Warriors player that has been red-hot is SF Harrison Barnes (19.0 PPG, 8.0 RPG in series), who has 25.5 PPG and 8.5 RPG in the past two games, which includes 25 points (10-of-18 FG) and seven boards in Game 5. PG Jarrett Jack (15.6 PPG, 4.0 RPG in series) has also provided big offensive numbers in the past two contests with 22.0 PPG (56% FG) and 5.5 RPG. However, Jack has more turnovers (14) than assists (13) in this series, despite posting a career-high 2.8 Ast/TO ratio during the regular season. PF Carl Landry (10.8 PPG on 56% FG and 6.4 RPG in series) and C Andrew Bogut (6.8 PPG, 12.4 RPG in series) continue to fill the void of PF David Lee, who has managed just 23 minutes this series, scoring 11 points with eight rebounds. Landry scored a series-high 16 points on Tuesday, getting to the line a dozen times, but Bogut contributed series lows in both points (two) and rebounds (six) in Game 5.

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