NBA Playoffs expert picks, odds for Monday: Pacers at Knicks, Timberwolves at Nuggets

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The second round of the NBA Playoffs start to hit their stride on Monday with a pair of games. The New York Knicks open their series against the Indiana Pacers while the Denver Nuggets look to get back even against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 2 of that series.

After beating the Philadelphia 76ers and seeing the shorthanded Milwaukee Bucks go down in the first round, the Knicks are a solid favorite against the Pacers in that series. The Knicks haven’t made a conference final since 2000.

Meanwhile, the defending champs are on the ropes a bit after losing Game 1 at home. Denver has plenty of time and talent to turn things around, but an 0-2 hole would be tough to come back from.

Here’s a look at Monday’s NBA Playoff games with staff picks, odds and previews.

All odds from BetMGM. Find the best deals on StubHub for tickets.

No. 6 Indiana Pacers at No. 2 New York Knicks

How to watch: 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Series odds: Knicks -250, Pacers +200

This is a classic 90s playoff rivalry reborn in a new era. Although these teams last met in the playoffs in 2013 (also in the second round), Pacers-Knicks became a thing when these two teams met in the playoffs six times from 1993-2000. Each team won three series, which included three conference finals series.

Patrick Ewing and Reggie Miller won’t be suiting up for this one, but there is an interesting matchup on paper. Jalen Brunson has to be the first player mentioned after the way he played against the 76ers last round. Brunson averaged 35.5 points per game over the six games in that series. Indiana must stop him from taking over games, but Brunson has seemed unstoppable at times.

The Pacers are a more balanced team than the Knicks and were a bit more up and down against the Bucks in the first round, though they also win in six games. Six players averaged double figures in the first round, led by Pascal Siakam at 22 points per game.

Indiana won two of the three regular-season meetings between these teams, including a win at Madison Square Garden in February.

The Knicks are solid favorites for Game 1 and even bigger favorites to advance to the conference final. Knicks fans have justifiable confidence for the first time in years, perhaps decades.

Expert picks for Pacers at Knicks

No. 3 Minnesota Timberwolves at No. 2 Denver Nuggets

How to watch: 10 p.m. ET on TNT

Timberwolves lead series 1-0

Series odds: Timberwolves -120, Nuggets +100

When factoring in injuries, there weren’t any true upsets in the first round of the playoffs. The better seed won six series and the other two (Indiana over Milwaukee and Dallas over the LA Clippers) involved the losing team not having its best player due to injury. Minnesota is working on the first real upset of the playoffs after winning Game 1 in Denver in impressive fashion.

The Timberwolves won 106-99 and absorbed a lot of big shots from Denver in the fourth quarter. Minnesota held the defending champs at bay in front of a hostile crowd.

Sure, it took Anthony Edwards going off for 43 points on 17-for-29 shooting and Jamal Murray not scoring until the third quarter, but this was the formula Minnesota envisioned when it traded for Rudy Gobert. Edwards is turning into one of the best players in the league and Gobert remains one of the best interior defenders in the league. Minnesota has one of the best scorers and one of the best defenders in the league. That’s enough to keep Minnesota in any game. Now, the Timberwolves have to do it over a seven-game series against the defending champs.

The pressure is on Denver for Game 2. The Nuggets can’t afford to go down 0-2 heading to Minnesota. Nikola Jokić still had plenty of stats to show he had a good game (32 points, nine assists, eight rebounds), but he did have seven turnovers. Throw in Murray only scoring 17 points after a scoreless first half and you have the formula for a bad game for Denver.

It doesn’t seem likely for those two to play like that again, but the Timberwolves already have a home-court advantage in the series. A loose Minnesota team could be very dangerous in Game 2, although the Nuggets are a solid favorite for Monday.

Expert picks for Timberwolves at Nuggets

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(Photo of Jalen Brunson: Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images)

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