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Knicks-Pacers: 5 takeaways from Pacers’ decisive Game 4 victory

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Aaron Nesmith defense vs. Jalen Brunson
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Indiana holds New York to simply 14 factors within the 1st quarter and by no means seems to be again, enhancing to 5-0 at house within the playoffs.

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INDIANAPOLIS — For the primary time within the 2024 playoffs, the New York Knicks performed a recreation with none drama. That was unhealthy information for the Knicks, who have been routed 121-89 by the Indiana Pacers in Recreation 4 of the Jap Convention semifinals on Sunday.

The Knicks simply didn’t have it. The Pacers did, and a 29-7 run gave them a 23-point lead late within the first quarter. New York was by no means inside 15 after that, and Indiana cruised to a 32-point victory.

Listed below are some notes, quotes, numbers and movie because the Pacers evened the collection at two video games apiece.


1. The slowest of sluggish begins for the Knicks

First quarters haven’t been good for the Knicks in these playoffs. Previous to Sunday, that they had good numbers within the different three quarters however had been outscored by 11.7 factors per 100 possessions within the opening 12 minutes. With that, that they had trailed seven of their 9 playoff video games by double digits.

This, after all, was the Knicks’ worst first quarter of the bunch. They scored on the sport’s first possession, however scored only one extra time on their subsequent 10 journeys down the ground. Extensive-open pictures didn’t join, free throws have been missed and drives have been contested.

The Pacers aren’t a terrific defensive crew, however they have been ok on Sunday. Aaron Nesmith obtained the Jalen Brunson task for the second straight recreation and didn’t give the Knicks’ level guard something simple.

All through this collection, the Pacers have refused to present the Knicks a Brunson vs. Haliburton matchup on that finish of the ground. Key to that has been Nesmith’s willingness to battle by screens and get again in entrance of Brunson. From there, he’s generally been in a position to disrupt Brunson’s dribble.

All these empty possessions on the Knicks’ finish of the ground allowed the Pacers to do what they do greatest.


2. Make or miss, the Pacers will run

The Pacers are the final crew you need to play if you don’t have your legs. For one, they constantly push the ball in transition. With all these stops within the first quarter on Sunday got here many transition alternatives the place the Knicks couldn’t sustain.

Heck, the Pacers didn’t want an actual cease to attain shortly. Their first factors of the sport got here on a transition layup after a missed free throw on the opposite finish of the ground:

Andrew Nembhard transition drive

Per Synergy monitoring, these have been the primary of the Pacers’ 38 transition factors on Sunday. That’s their excessive for the playoffs and the second most the Knicks have allowed all season (92 whole video games).

With Nembhard, Tyrese Haliburton and T.J. McConnell, the Pacers have three guards who will push the ball, penetrate and create benefits. However this crew additionally strikes the ball so effectively, making it particularly onerous to maintain up if the defensive vitality is missing.

Just a little later within the first quarter, the Pacers had a five-pass transition possession the place Tyrese Haliburton gave the ball up early and ultimately obtained it again for a wide-open 3-pointer:

Tyrese Haliburton transition 3-pointer

That was the story all afternoon. The Pacers shot higher (14-for-31 from 3-point vary vs. the Knicks 7-for-37) largely as a result of they obtained higher pictures.


3. Level guards trending in reverse instructions

Jalen Brunson someway returned from a foot damage in Recreation 2 to attain 24 factors within the second half. However over the 2 video games in Indiana, he’s shot 16-for-43 (37%), together with simply 2-for-11 from 3-point vary.

On Sunday, his first couple of misses have been simply off the mark. However in the end, seven of his 11 misses have been brief.

In fact, he wouldn’t admit to having much less carry or burst since he harm his foot and wasn’t on the damage report earlier than Recreation 4.

“I’m advantageous,” he mentioned. “I’m advantageous.”

Haliburton has additionally been banged up, however not like his counterpart, his numbers are trending up. After scoring simply six factors on 2-for-6 capturing in Recreation 1, he’s averaged 29.7 on 55% over the previous three.

The Pacers’ tempo and ball motion have gotten him some nice seems to be, however he additionally closed the primary half with a tricky stepback 3-pointer over Donte DiVincenzo:

Tyrese Haliburton step-back 3-pointer

Each recreation in a playoff collection is completely different and Brunson ought to get a carry from the Madison Sq. Backyard crowd with the collection heading again to New York for Recreation 5. However the play of the 2 All-Star level guards has been trending within the Pacers’ favor.


4. Knicks’ protection not ok

League-wide effectivity has been decrease within the playoffs (111.9 factors scored per 100 possessions) than it was within the common season (114.5). However the Knicks have now allowed 7.4 extra per 100 within the postseason (119.8, fifteenth of 16 groups) than they did within the common season (112.4, ninth). Once they’ve received, they’ve largely received with offense, with offensive rebounding being a giant a part of that.

They’ve performed two good offensive groups. The Sixers ranked sixth offensively earlier than Joel Embiid’s prolonged absence, and the Pacers had the second-most environment friendly offense in NBA historical past. However Indiana has scored extra effectively on this collection than it did within the common season or its first-round collection towards the Antetokounmpo-less Bucks.

The Knicks’ protection regresses with out OG Anunoby, who suffered a strained hamstring in Recreation 2. Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau mentioned Anunoby traveled with the crew to Indianapolis however had carried out “simply pool work” earlier than Recreation 4. Since his arrival, New York is 26-5 with Anunoby and 13-16 with out him.

However the protection wasn’t excellent (118.3 factors allowed per 100 possessions) in Anunoby’s 320 minutes in these playoffs. And whether or not he performs or not, the Knicks have to be higher on that finish of the ground.

“It’s not simply OG,” Thibodeau mentioned. “OG was out for an excellent chunk of the season, in order that’s no excuse. Simply get it carried out.”


5. Knicks’ starters get some early (and wanted) relaxation

Thibodeau will not be one to concede defeat early. Over Jalen Brunson’s two seasons with the Knicks (and previous to Sunday), there have been 63 losses the place he was wholesome sufficient to play the fourth quarter. And in solely a type of 63 video games (a loss to Oklahoma Metropolis in Nov. 2022) did he spend your entire fourth on the bench.

However this recreation was out of hand, the Knicks have been short-handed and banged up, and two of their most essential gamers had averaged greater than 41 minutes by their first 9 playoff video games. Moreover, this was the shortest turnaround you’ll get within the playoffs, a Sunday afternoon recreation after one on Friday night time.

Josh Hart, the participant averaging 46.4 minutes earlier than Sunday, was the primary starter to sit down down, changed by Treasured Achiuwa with 8:17 left within the third. Then it was Isaiah Hartenstein (6:54), Brunson (2:32) and Donte DiVincenzo (0:44).

We obtained quarter-hour of rubbish time and perhaps that’s what the Knicks wanted, even when it got here with their largest margin of defeat this season.

“Yeah we’re short-handed,” Brunson mentioned afterward. “However that doesn’t matter proper now. We’ve got what we have now, and we have to go ahead with that. So there isn’t any, ‘We’re short-handed.’ There isn’t any excuse. There’s no excuse in any way. If we lose, we lose. That’s what that was.”

The Knicks will now must hope {that a} comparatively early return house and two nights of their beds will likely be sufficient to have them extra prepared for Recreation 5 on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET, TNT). They’ve been remarkably resilient so far, however with each recreation, there’s just a little extra put on on the tires and rather less fuel within the tank.

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John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You possibly can e-mail him right here, discover his archive right here and follow him on X. 

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