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New York Knicks vs Indiana Pacers: 3 key matchups that could determine the outcome of their season opener

New York Knicks v Washington Wizards
New York Knicks v Washington Wizards
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Modified 23 Dec 2020, 07:36 IST
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The New York Knicks and the Indiana Pacers will face each other on December 23rd to kick off their 2020-21 NBA season. This will be the first of three battles between these two sides.

Both the Knicks and the Pacers made recent acquisitions during the offseason in hopes of taking leaps forward to reach the ultimate NBA goal, a championship. Both teams are still far from reaching the promised land but seem to be heading in the right direction.

The New York Knicks made the additions of Austin Rivers, Nerlens Noel, and Alec Burks. In the NBA 2020 Draft, the Knicks picked up Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickly, two rookies who will be fighting for minutes right away. However, the Knickerbockers' biggest pick-up was the signing of their new coach, Tom Thibodeau. Thibodeau is one of the smartest minds in the league and will be able to develop this young Knicks team.

The Indiana Pacers, who were the fourth seed in the 2019-20 playoffs, added a talented wing from Duke University, Cassius Stanley, and a defensive specialist in Kelan Martin. But the biggest acquisition for the Pacers this offseason, similar to the New York Knicks, is their new coaching hire, Nate Bjorkgren.

New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers

Match Predictions: 3 key matchups to look out for

Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks
Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks

Ultimately, every game in the NBA comes down to the key matchup between the star players. This article will take a close look at what the three key matchups will be between the New York Knicks and the Indiana Pacers that will decide this game's outcome.

#3 Myles Turner vs. Nerlens Noel

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Indiana Pacers v Cleveland Cavaliers
Indiana Pacers v Cleveland Cavaliers

One of the more important matchups will be the paint battle between Myles Turner and Nerlens Noel.

Myles Turner missed the final two NBA preseason games for Indiana, but he is expected to start on Wednesday night. Turner will look to continue his defensive dominance against the lengthy and quick Nerlens Noel. The Indiana Pacers big man averaged 2.1 blocks a game, the fourth highest in the NBA last season.

As for the New York Knicks, this will be Nerlens Noel's first game with them. The big man was not a guaranteed starter as he has battled against Mitchell Robinson in training camp, but with coach Thibodeau's veterans' preference, the job will likely remain with Noel. For the 6 feet, 11 inches center to win this matchup, he will need to take advantage of his quickness and look to take Turner off the dribble.

#2 Malcolm Brogdon vs. Elfrid Payton

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New York Knicks v Atlanta Hawks
New York Knicks v Atlanta Hawks

This matchup will come down to who can control the pace and get their teammates involved. Both point guards have high IQs and will be the floor generals on the court.

Elfrid Payton is coming off a very poor preseason where fans are calling for him to be benched for the rookie Immanuel Quickly. If Payton does not pick up his play, look for the Indiana Pacers to easily control the point guard matchup.

#1 Victor Oladipo vs. R.J. Barrett

Indiana Pacers v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game One
Indiana Pacers v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game One
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The matchup fans will be most excited for is Victor Oladipo against R.J Barrett. Both players have questions coming into this season and will be wanting to prove themselves.

R.J. Barrett will look to shine in a new system and reach the high expectations that come with being a top-3 draft pick. Barrett showed signs of improvement during the NBA preseason, where he averaged 17.8 points.

If all that comes for the New York Knicks in their game against the Indiana Pacers are signs that R.J. Barrett will have a strong season, then it will be a win, regardless of the score.

Victor Oladipo will be looking to bounce back this season. Due to rupturing his quad tendon, Oladipo has played just 55 games in the last two years.

If Oladipo is able to come back the same player he was prior to his injury, he will control the matchup between the young second-year Knicks guard.


ALSO READ: New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers Prediction & Match Preview - December 23, 2020 | NBA Season 2020-21 (sportskeeda.com)

Published 23 Dec 2020, 07:36 IST
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