Sunday’s match-up in Madison Square Garden was billed as a potential preview of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. The Knicks showed during a 90-80 victory over the Pacers that New York will be a deserving favorite to win that series should both teams advance past the first round in the NBA Playoffs.
For the fifth straight game, the Pacers fell behind to an opponent by at least 20 points. Unlike their previous two games, they were never able to regain the lead. Lance Stephenson led the Pacers in scoring with 22 points while Carmello Anthony led the Knicks with 25 points. The Pacers committed a season-high 26 turnovers in the loss.
Despite the loss, the Pacers locked up the the third seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs due to the Nets loss to the Raptors. Indiana will open the NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse either April 20th or April 21st against either the Bulls or the Hawks. Atlanta currently has a one-game lead over Chicago for 5th in the Eastern Conference, but the Bulls own the tie-breaker.
The Knicks won for the 15th time in their last 16 games and clinched the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. New York will play Boston in the first-round.
The remaining regular season games are now meaningless for both the Knicks and the Pacers. After the loss, Frank Vogel said he would likely rest many of his starters the final two games, specifically referencing George Hill and Paul George.