No. 2 New York Knicks
vs. No. 3 Indiana Pacers
●Why the Knicks will win in six: Reggie Miller won’t be around to mock Spike Lee, but the Hicks vs. Knicks are back at it for the first time since 2000 — the last time New York won a playoff series before Friday. The teams split four regular season games, though Indiana did hand New York an embarrassing 34-point loss on Feb. 20. After New York hurdled a tough challenge in the valiant Celtics, Knicks Coach Mike Woodson began to discuss his desires to win a championship. His team certainly has confidence with Carmelo Anthony exorcizing his first-round playoff demons with the help of Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert. The Knicks might also welcome back Amare Stoudemire during the series.
●Difference maker: David West, Pacers. West scored 45 points in the final two games to lead Indiana to a series win over Atlanta and he will be tasked with making Anthony work on defense. With New York’s Tyson Chandler still slowed by a neck injury, the Pacers’ interior combination of West and Roy Hibbert could pose problems.
Game 1: Indiana at New York, today, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
Game 2: Indiana at New York, Tuesday, 7 (TNT)
Game 3: New York at Indiana, Saturday, 8 (ABC)
Game 4: New York at Indiana, dates, times TBA
Game 5*: Indiana at New York, TBA
Game 6*: New York at Indiana, TBA
Game 7*: Indiana at New York, TBA
●Why the Thunder will win in seven: Oklahoma City’s title chances took a severe hit when it lost all-star point guard Russell Westbrook for the remainder of the playoffs with a meniscus tear in his right knee. But in the rematch of the seven-game second-round series from two years ago, the Thunder still has the best player on the floor in Kevin Durant. Durant averaged points 32.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists in the six-game series win over Houston and will have to produce similar numbers against Grizzlies forward Tony Allen, one of the toughest perimeter defenders in the league. Memphis won the season series, 2-1, but Durant is determined to show that he can still get the job done, though his team has been weakened by trades and injuries.
●Difference maker: Zach Randolph, Grizzlies. Randolph answered all of the questions about how Memphis would win in the postseason without Rudy Gay by averaging 24.5 in the final four games of the Grizzlies’ win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Thunder forward Serge Ibaka will likely defend Randolph and Marc Gasol but he can’t guard both at the same time.
Game 1: Memphis at Oklahoma City, today, 1 (ABC)
Game 2: Memphis at Oklahoma City, Tuesday, 9:30 (TNT)
Game 3: Oklahoma City at Memphis, Saturday, 5 (ESPN)
Game 4: Oklahoma City at Memphis, TBA
Game 5*: Memphis at Okla. City, TBA
Game 6*: Okla. City at Memphis, TBA
Game 7*: Memphis at Okla. City, TBA