NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 16: Frank Ntilikina #11 of the New York Knicks takes the ball in the second quarter against the Phoenix Suns at Madison Square Garden on January 16, 2020 in New York City.NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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Frank Ntilikina’s sore groin is acting up, forcing the point guard to miss Saturday night’s tussle with the Indiana Pacers.

The New York Knicks face a tall task on Saturday night. Victor Oladipo is back on the court and the Indiana Pacers are finally at full strength. The Knicks, on the other hand, will be severely shorthanded for a variety of reasons.

Frank Ntilikina has been dealing with a nagging groin that kept him out of Wednesday’s action against the Memphis Grizzlies. In addition to Ntilikina’s absence, the Knicks will be without starting point guard Elfrid Payton.

The veteran is serving a one-game suspension for his role in a late-game melee with the Grizzlies. Payton shoved Jae Crowder during a three-point attempt because he felt that the shot was disrespectful.

Without Ntilikina and Payton, interim head coach Mike Miller will turn to the wildly inconsistent Dennis Smith Jr. and two-way player Kadeem Allen. Smith is enduring the worst year of his NBA career.

Personal tragedy, injuries, lackluster play, and trade rumors have made this a forgettable season for the third-year point guard. Perhaps a chance at starting and playing major minutes will spark the Fayetteville, NC native.

Reggie Bullock is questionable (illness) after starting in the last seven games. Considering RJ Barrett is still out with a sprained right ankle, the Knicks could turn to Wayne Ellington or Damyean Dotson to fill out the starting lineup.

The Pacers matchup (7 p.m. ET) is the first of a two-game road stint. New York travels to Cleveland to play the Cavaliers for the fourth and final time on Monday (7 p.m. ET).

Danny Small is on Twitter @dwsmall8.

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