The tension is rising in the 2013 NBA Playoffs. Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks face a do-or-die Game 5 situation on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden against the Indiana Pacers. Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors can't afford to stumble in their Game 6 matchup versus the San Antonio Spurs. The Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies both advanced to the Conference Finals on Wednesday night, so the final four could potentially be set by the end of the evening. Here's a look at the TV schedule and tip times for Thursday.
Pacers vs. Knicks, Game 5 (8 p.m. ET, TNT) | Indiana leads series, 3-1
Knicks head coach Mike Woodson has started to tinker with the lineup, and after a poor showing in Game 4 there is a strange atmosphere surrounding the team in New York. Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith have struggled in the series, but it's not like the Pacers are unbeatable. Ian Levy of Pacers blog Indy Cornrows provided an excellent breakdown of Indiana's offensive deficiencies and weaknesses earlier in the week.
At Knicks blog Posting and Toasting, they aren't impressed with Woodson's decision making during this series:
Let's break down Mike Woodson's strategy in the series thus far. He went with the regular lineup for the first two games of the series. The Knicks scored 95 and 105 points, respectively, for an average of 100.0 points a game, which is exactly their regular season average. Their averaged 109.6 points per 100 possessions - a scant 1.5 points below their regular season average, and nearly 10 points more than Pacers opponents averaged during the regular season. After a thorough beat-down in Game 3, Woodson decided to throw the script out the window and improvised a new starting lineup, one that had yet to start a game this season.
The idea was terrible on a number of levels.
If the Knicks managed to pull out a win on Thursday, Game 6 would be on Saturday night in Indiana.
Spurs vs. Warriors, Game 6 (10:30 p.m., ESPN) | San Antonio leads series, 3-2
The Warriors and Spurs have alternated wins in this series, and if the pattern holds it means Golden State is due to emerge victorious in Game 6. Things won't be that simple, but Stephen Curry and the Warriors have to like the fact that they will be back at home with the ORACLE Arena crowd for the must-win contest.
The game preview at Warriors blog Golden State of Mind has taken the form of an emotional pep talk (a non-ironic ode to Mark Jackson, perhaps?), while the Spurs-centric preview at Pounding the Rock focuses on how the team can get back to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2007-08.
If the Warriors win Game 6, the winner-take-all Game 7 will be played on Sunday afternoon in San Antonio.