New York Knicks (23-11) vs. Indiana Pacers (21-14)
Marv Albert? Reggie Miller? Pacers? Knicks? All we need is Spike Lee, some grainy footage, Patrick Ewing missing a late-game shot (just kidding), John Starks and Mark Jackson and we have ourselves a party!
No, Thursday night's game at Banker's Life Fieldhouse will not be the mid-90s battles that inspired Reggie Miller to help produce Winning Time on ESPN. What we will have Thursday night is those two teams, both in first place, playing a 90s style game that coudl be very low scoring.
Indiana is already one of the lowest scoring teams int he league — 28th in the league with a 98.4 offensive rating according to HoopData — and Indiana plays at a pretty slow pace. Yet, the Pacers are winning without Danny Granger and even defeated the Heat at home earlier this week. Indiana is tough to beat in Indianapolis.
A big part of that has been the emergence of Paul George as a star player. He has had some big scoring games and has filled the hole Granger left with his injury.
The Knicks are on the opposite end of the spectrum as one of the best offensive teams. But tonight Carmelo Anthony will serve his one-game suspension. That could make this an extremely ugly game.
But would you have Pacers-Knicks any other way? This could be one that makes the Davis boys proud, especially if Tyson Chandler neutralizes Roy Hibbert and this game really slows down.
Other Storylines to Watch
-Rasheed Wallace has been out for a while and with Amar'e Stoudemire having his minutes limited strictly to 20 minutes, New York might need some help down low. Kenyon Martin's name continues to surface, but New York might wait to see if Wallace could come back next week.
-As much as the Pacers offense struggles, their defense is one of the best in the league. Defense has become this team's identity especially considering Hibbert has struggled and Granger has been out with an injury the entire year.
Tonight's Other Games
Dallas Mavericks (13-23) vs. Sacramento Kings (13-22)
There is definitely turmoil going on in Sacramento. Rumors that the Maloofs are selling the team to a group from Seattle with intentions to move the team to Washington have been swirling the last few days and Kings fans are worried as hell. Maybe they knew this was coming. So tonight, during a game that will recall one of the best rivalries for those early-2000s Kings it will be an emotional night with a lot of fan support for a team they called their own. Hopefully the Kings and their fans put on a good show and the move is delayed… again.
Miami Heat (23-10) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (19-15)
Word on the street is that the Heat are looking for a big man. Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen may be on their radar. But so too is an unlikely name: Greg Oden. Oden, the former Trail Blazers top overal pick, is back in Columbus taking classes at Ohio State and working out. Reports are that Oden is hoping to make a comeback next season. If he is ready though and the Heat call… Who knows?