The Indiana Pacers' defense bounced back in the first half after suffering one of its worst quarters of the season at the end of a Game 2 loss, and Indiana leads the New York Knicks 36-33 at halftime. The Pacers jumped out to a 7-0 lead and held the Knicks to just 15 points in the first quarter on 33 percent shooting.
The first quarter came and went without an Amar'e Stoudemire sighting, but he started the second quarter for the Knicks alongside Kenyon Martin and without Carmelo Anthony. Before the game, Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said Stoudemire would be on a strict 10-12 minute restriction for the game. Ethan Rothstein highlighted three questions before the tip that would help determine the outcome of Game 3. Here's where we stand so far.
Which team can translate on-paper strengths to on-court success?
Right now it's the Pacers' size and defense. They held the Knicks to 37 percent shooting and more importantly have forced Woodson to play with two bigs and Carmelo Anthony for much of the game, which has limited the Knicks' ability to stretch the floor. So far they've attempted just five three-pointers and are still being outrebounded by the Pacers, 31-20.
Can J.R. Smith and Amar'e Stoudemire contribute?
Not really. Stoudemire started the second quarter and got a quick dunk, but didn't do much else. Smith, who almost missed the game due to a fever, didn't do much more, missing his first three shots before finally getting on the board with a couple of baskets late in the second quarter. Both players' minutes were limited as Woodson tried to look for different ways to get the Knicks' offense going.
Will anyone besides Paul George step up on offense?
Fact: Paul George is the Pacers' third-leading scorer at halftime. George Hill got the Pacers offense going in the first quarter and Roy Hibbert took control in the second. David West was active throughout both. His work setting screens and working out of the high post got Hill loose for all of his nine points in the first quarter. Hibbert was incredibly aggressive calling for the ball in the second quarter, backing down both Martin and Tyson Chandler at will.