NBA: New York Knicks face Indiana Pacers as Conference semi-finals begin
Last Updated: 04/05/13 8:12pm
Carmelo Anthony: fit and firing for the Knicks
The NBA play-offs step up a gear on Sunday as the Conference semi-finals commence live on Sky Sports.
In the Western Conference, the Memphis Grizzlies travel to Chesapeake Energy Arena to begin their series with the Oklahoma City Thunder, while in the East the New York Knicks host the Indiana Pacers.
The Knicks - seeded second in their conference - were pushed hard in a 4-2 series win over the Boston Celtics in the first round despite winning the opening three games.
Indiana also needed six games to see off the Atlanta Hawks and both teams will go into the clash with the same amount of rest having wrapped up their opening round wins on Friday night.
Hosts New York are favourites to win both the opening game and the whole series, with star duo Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler both fit and firing for the post-season.
The Pacers do not have the star power of their opponents but have built a soild team around third-year small forward Paul George, while power forward David West was the star of their last two wins over the Hawks.
Meanwhile both the Thunder - top seeds in the West - and the Grizzlies also needed six games to set up their semi-final.
Oklahoma City's hopes of reaching the NBA Finals for a second straight year took a hit when point guard Russell Westbrook was ruled out indefinitely with a knee injury, but they still managed to see off the Houston Rockets.
However they may face a tougher test in the form of Memphis, who sprung something of a surprise by bouncing back from a 2-0 deficit to see off the Los Angeles Clippers. The Grizzlies also won two out of their three regular season meetings with the Thunder.
Westbrook's absence means that three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant will be leaned on even more heavily than usual, while Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol form the backbone of the Grizzlies.
NBA live on Sky Sports 4 HD: Memphis Grizzlies @ Oklahoma City Thunder, 6pm (behind red button until 7.30pm) and Indiana Pacers @ New York Knicks, 8.30pm.