Knicks game preview: Eyeing a winning streak on national television

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 11: Enes Kanter #00 of the New York Knicks dribbles the ball against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on February 11, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 11: Enes Kanter #00 of the New York Knicks dribbles the ball against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on February 11, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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The New York Knicks will look to make it two consecutive wins against the Indiana Pacers.

It’s Halloween, which makes a “spooky” night of basketball is ahead at Madison Square Garden between the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers. There may be a trick or a treat on the way—possibly multiple—from one or both teams this Wednesday evening.

Two games into head coach David Fizdale’s lineup experiment, the Knicks are 1-1. They stood a chance at 2-0, but a Kevin Durant onslaught prevented this.

Status quo for the starting lineup

Look for Frank Ntilikina, Tim Hardaway Jr., Damyean Dotson, Noah Vonleh and Mitchell Robinson to start together for the third consecutive game, as the Knicks eye their first multi-game winning streak of the season. Few things went wrong in their win over the Brooklyn Nets, so everything should remain the same, barring a last-minute change from Fizdale.

Defensive value

This unit has provided defensive value for New York, with greater two-way ability than the group that opened the season. That included a solid 108.5 Defensive Rating and 11.0 Net Rating from Dotson, per NBA Advanced Stats, and Vonleh’s 110 Defensive Rating and 10.5 Net Rating.

Among the defensive assignments for these two will be Thaddeus Young and Bogdan Bogdanovic and both have averaged over 50 percent shooting in seven games.

Frank Ntilikina may have the biggest test of them all, pending Fizdale places him on Victor Oladipo. The 2017-18 breakout star already has 21.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists on 46.9 percent shooting, including 24 points on 10-of-15 shots against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Leading the second unit

Enes Kanter may not love “leading the second unit,” but his performance against the Nets showed no issue there with 15 points and 15 rebounds.

In a likely third game off the bench, he has former Knick Kyle O’Quinn to battle along with Damantas Sabonis and Myles Turner. He may struggle against this trio, who has found success on the defensive end.

If not Kanter, Trey Burke, Mario Hezonja, Allonzo Trier and Lance Thomas will look to pick up the pieces.

Odds and prediction

According to ESPN, the Pacers are favored by 5.5 points over the Knicks. Given the defensive differences between these teams, it makes sense on paper, as well as their more efficient scoring (Indiana’s 50.1 field goal percentage vs. New York’s 43.1).

In another close game, look for the Knicks to find one more night of success with this young two-way group, 108-104.

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The actual result will transpire at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN, MSG and FSIN. Will Hardaway, Kanter and company find their way to a 3-5 record?