Each day that there’s a playoff game, we’ll have three things to watch in the NBA playoffs. Each note will be accompanied by a contest. We’ll announce winners after each round. Here’s today’s three things to watch:
1) Indiana vs. Manhattan. The Pacers defeated the Knicks 102-95 in Game 1 on the road, thanks to a balanced effort — six Pacers scored in double figures and they led by 16 heading into the fourth quarter. With a win today, the Pacers would secure a dominating home-court advantage — needing just two wins with as many as three more games at home. The Pacers produced a convincing 44-30 edge in rebounding, unexpectedly led by Brooklyn-born guard Lance Stephenson.
2) Kevin Durant. Oklahoma City barely eked out a victory in Game 1, winning 93-91 against the Memphis Grizzlies, one of the league’s best defenses and a team that starts Marc Gasol, the league’s Defensive Player of the Year. Kevin Durant led OKC to victory behind 35 points on 13-26 shooting, adding 15 rebounds and a 19-footer to take the lead for good with 11 seconds left. There’s few ways — if any — to stop Kevin Durant, but if any team has the capability of doing it, it’s the Grizzlies, who employ both Gasol and Tony Allen, arguably the league’s best perimeter defender. Memphis has a bevy of talented scorers, and the Thunder barely won even with Durant’s routine explosion and may need an unlikely hero to seal Game 2.
3) Carmelo Anthony’s shooting. Anthony is no stranger to shooting — Game 1 marked the 44th time this season that he’s recorded more field goal attempts+free throw attempts than points. He averaged 28.7 points on 28.8 FGA+FTA per game in the regular season, which makes this proposition basically a 50-50. The Knicks will be most successful if Anthony’s shooting efficiently — will he?