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NBA Playoffs: Knicks and Pacers Look to Advance


Both the New York Knicks and the Indiana Pacers appeared to have their respective first round series well in hand, but after some resistance from their lower seeded opponents, they’ll have to re-summon the killer mentality to eliminate their Eastern Conference foes once and for all.

After getting up 3-0 against the Celtics, the Knicks were supremely confident they would sweep away Boston. The team even wore funeral black to Madison Square Garden for game five – much to their coach Mike Woodson’s chagrin – to symbolize laying Boston to rest, but the resilient Celtics have pushed things to game six back home in Boston.

Meanwhile, the third-seeded Pacers were enjoying a 2-0 edge over the Hawks before getting blown out in both games in Atlanta. Now, after a rebound win in game five, the Pacers will hope to finish the job in Atlanta in game six, up 3-2.

Here are our picks for both game sixes in the East today:

New York Knicks -2.5 at Boston Celtics +2.5

The Knicks still seemingly have every advantage against the Celtics, except for home court today and momentum, of course.

With their backs against the wall, the stakes and the pressure are still at their highest today for the Celtics. No team has ever come from 0-3 down to win a series in the NBA playoffs, but the Celtics still know it can be done. All they have to do is look across town to the Red Sox for inspiration.

“We just know every game for us is a Game 7,” Celtics guard Jason Terry said, according to ESPN,com. “It’s all about being resilient. Do you pack up your things and go home or do you want to play another day? You got guys like Kevin (Garnett) and Paul (Pierce) who’ve been in a lot of playoff series, and everyone takes a life of its own. Obviously being down 3-0 … we could have folded shop,” Terry said. “Nobody in here is going to quit.”

Will and determination are certainly huge factors in winning a playoff series, but as the more skilled team, the Knicks know they just have to put their heads down and come together for one more game to beat the Celtics.

“It’s not going to be easy by any means going to Boston and getting a win there, but again, we still control our own destiny,” said Woodson. “We have won in Boston, so we’ve got to see what we’re made of now.”

Right now, the Celtics seem like the more confident team and with the home crowd cheering them on, they’ll be tough to beat tonight. I still think the Knicks should prevail in seven games, but tonight, I like Boston. Take the Celtics to cover +2.5 in the win.

Indiana Pacers +1.5 at Atlanta Hawks -1.5

The Hawks’ fans may not get as much credit for inspiring their team to win as Boston’s do, but the fact is, Atlanta has been a completely different team on its home floor this postseason; they’ve been a better team.

The Hawks have only won two games in the series, but they’ve won them by a combined 32 points. We know they can beat Indiana, but the question is: Can they muster another great game when it matters most?

What’s troubling is that the Hawks are coming off a disturbing 106-83 loss, a game in which several players lost their composure and received technical fouls. That’s something they can’t afford to happen tonight, but even if they keep their cool, beating the Pacers again won’t be easy.

Not only has Indiana reclaimed the momentum in this series, but it also seems to have rediscovered its offense. Look for the Pacers to eliminate the Hawks tonight, covering +1.5 in the process.

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