Will it be second time lucky for the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night as they try to close out their Western Conference semi-final series with the New York Knicks?
Having lost 85-75 at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, the Pacers get back home advantage for Game 6 but they’ll hope to also bring back George Hill whose absence was a huge factor in allowing the Knicks to cut the series score to 3-2 as Indiana committed too many turnovers and were duly punished.
Hill will have to pass a concussion test before the game if he is to return but New York will fear going to a venue where their hosts have been much more effective all season.
Despite the line-up changes brought in by coach Mike Woodson, the Knicks still looked fragile against Indiana’s front line. In a game where the total points line is at 177.5, they could score 85 points again tonight but come off second best.
New York are 2.70 force a Game 7 but if Hill gets the go-ahead, back the Pacers on the handicap of -5 at 1.91. If he sits, opt for Indiana for the win at 1.48 and to progress onwards in these NBA Play-offs to a showdown with Miami Heat for the Eastern Conference title.
Looking elsewhere, it’s now only three months until EuroBasket gets under way and with a number of high-profile players dropping out through injury, there could be a few surprises in store.
Spain are still 1.85 favourites to win the trophy for the third successive time but they will be without Lakers star Pau Gasol and there are question marks over a number of other performers. France, who are 6.25, are just down Kevin Seraphin so far, while Russia, at 9.00, will go to Slovenia minus Andrei Kirilenko.
That means there could be room for another side to sneak through. Serbia are 7.25 to reach the final but for a generous early punt, take their neighbours Montenegro at 15.00 to finish 1-2.
Best Bet: Take Indiana to beat New York at 1.48
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