Preview capsules for the NBA’s conference semifinals:


No. 2 NEW YORK KNICKS (50-32, 4-2) vs. No. 6 INDIANA PACERS (47-35, 4-2)

Season series: Pacers, 2-1.

Schedule: Monday at New York, Wednesday at New York, May 10 at New York, May 12 at Indiana, TBD.

Story line: The Knicks have reached the Eastern Conference semifinals in consecutive seasons for the first time since making nine straight trips from 1992 to 2000. Those postseasons almost always included a matchup with the Pacers, with the teams meeting in three straight years from 1993-95, then again from 1998-00. They last met in 2013, when the Knicks were also a No. 2 seed but Indiana won in six games. The Pacers went to the conference finals that year and again in 2014, but didn’t win another series until ousting Milwaukee in the first round.

Key matchup: OG Anunoby vs. Pascal Siakam. They were teammates in Toronto’s starting lineup to begin this season before Anunoby was traded in December and Siakam, who opened the playoffs with consecutive games of at least 36 points and 11 rebounds, in January. While All-Star point guards Jalen Brunson and Tyrese Haliburton are the ones who make the offenses flow in this series, the two forwards are needed to make big impacts on both ends of the floor.

Numbers of note: Brunson scored 40 or more points in three straight games in the first round, the seventh player in NBA history to do that. He averaged 35.7 points in three games against the Pacers in the regular season. … The Pacers averaged 123.3 points, right at their NBA-leading average, on nearly 55% shooting against the Knicks in the regular season. … The Knicks outscored the 76ers 650-649 in their first-round victory, the fifth series in the last 20 years to have a point differential of one or fewer points. The Knicks-Pacers series in 2013 had a point differential of zero, though none of the games was decided by fewer than seven points.

Prediction: Indiana’s depth wears down a Knicks team basically playing seven guys. Pacers in 6.


No. 2 DENVER NUGGETS (57-25, 4-1) vs. No. 3 MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (56-26, 4-0)

Season series: Tied, 2-2.

Schedule: Saturday at Denver, Monday at Denver, May 10 at Minnesota, May 12 at Minnesota, May 14 at Denver, May 16 at Minnesota, May 19 at Denver.

Story line: The teams went down to the wire in the regular season battling with Northwest Division rival Oklahoma City for the No. 1 seed in the West, which the Thunder earned by a tiebreaker over the Nuggets and the Timberwolves finishing a game behind. The Wolves then knocked out Phoenix for the first sweep of a seven-game series in franchise history, while Denver opened its title defense by eliminating the Lakers on Jamal Murray’s second winning shot of the series in the final seconds.

Key matchup: Nikola Jokic vs. Rudy Gobert. Nobody really stops Jokic, who has scored 20 or more points in 24 consecutive playoff games, tying Alex English for the Nuggets’ franchise record. Gobert won’t even defend him individually all the time, but it’s the way the Defensive Player of the Year finalist centers a defense that allowed an NBA-low 106.5 points per game in the regular season that makes him so important against a team that executes like Denver.

Numbers of note: Jokic has 30 postseason games with at least 30 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, fifth-most in NBA history. He averaged 33.3 points on 58.4% shooting against Minnesota in the regular season. … The Timberwolves averaged 118.3 points in the first round, their most ever in a playoff series. … Anthony Edwards, who averaged 31 points in the first round, was limited to just 20.8 per game by Denver during the season. … Minnesota held Denver below 100 points in both of its regular-season victories.

Prediction: The Timberwolves proved in their dominant first round that they’re better than many fans realized. Just not quite good enough to topple the champs. Denver in 7.