Knicks vs. Pacers score: Indiana destroys depleted New York team in Game 4, ties NBA playoff series

The New York Knicks haven't played a single easy game this postseason. The average margin of victory in their first nine playoff games was 5.9 points. Eight of those nine games featured either a fourth-quarter tie or a one-point lead in the final frame. Many of these games have featured controversial and emotional endings. Just watching the 2024 Knicks postseason run has been exhausting.

On Sunday, we got a glimpse of just how exhausting it must have been to play in it. After three weeks of nail-biters, the Knicks finally folded. They were blown off of the court in a 121-89 Pacers victory to tie their second-round series at two games apiece.

In the grand scheme of things, we should have seen this coming. The Knicks entered this series without rotation mainstays Julius Randle and Bojan Bogdanovic. Mitchell Robinson and OG Anunoby joined them on the sidelines as the series progressed. Jalen Brunson is playing through an injury we know about. It's not hard to imagine that several other players are playing through injuries we don't know about given the workloads they've endured. 

Josh Hart entered Game 3 having averaged 46.4 minutes per game this postseason. Brunson is just under 42 despite missing a good chunk of Game 2 due to injury. Donte DiVincenzo has played at least 43 in all three Pacers games. Isaiah Hartenstein averaged roughly 38 minutes in the first three Pacers games despite playing most of the second half of the season with an Achilles injury.

New York managed to brush all of that off in their first nine playoff games. It finally overwhelmed them in Game No. 10. Just about every statistical advantage the Pacers had tells the story of a healthy, fresh team running over a group that had simply run out of gas.

Indiana shot well from deep at 14-of-31. The Knicks were far worse at 7-of-37. New York had been the best 3-point shooting team of the postseason having made 40.4% of its looks in those first nine games. It was the way the Knicks kept missing in Game 4 that gave away their exhaustion. Shot after shot clanked off the front of the rim. Misses like that are a telltale sign that a team's legs are gone. They couldn't generate enough power on their shots to get them through the rim.

Rebounding is New York's superpower. The Knicks led the NBA in rebounding rate in the regular season. They pulled in 17 more total rebounds in the first three games of this series than the Pacers. But Indiana managed to win the rebounding battle in Game 4, 52-43. The Knicks lead the postseason in total boxouts, per tracking data, but they barely did so in Game 4. Pacer after Pacer was able to glide through empty lanes to pull in uncontested boards in the win. If the Knicks aren't rebounding, something is seriously wrong.

Indiana's identity is, pun only somewhat intended, its pace. That was well on display in Game 4, as the Pacers dominated in terms of fast-break points, 22-5. The Knicks have been willing to indulge in Indiana's fast-paced playing style so far in the series, but the Knicks could no longer keep up by Game 4. It's a bit of a reversal from what we expect in the postseason. Normally, the slower team manages to drag the faster one down to its preferred tempo. That hasn't been the case in this matchup. While the overall pace has technically declined slightly from New York's league-low 95.96 possessions per game in the regular season, that dip is minuscule compared to the decline other playoff teams experience. The Knicks just haven't been able to slow the Pacers down enough.

One theoretical advantage to a blowout like this is that it should have allowed the Knicks to get their best players out quickly so they could rest up for Game 5. Tom Thibodeau stubbornly stuck with his starters for most of the third quarter. DiVincenzo, for instance, still managed to play 32 minutes in Game 4. That's roughly the workload of an average Pacers starter in this series over a full game.

It's not as though the Knicks have an extended break to rest up for Game 5. They return to New York on Tuesday, and the winner will have chance to clinch the series in Game 6 on Thursday. Maybe the Knicks will find an answer by then. Maybe, against the current expectation, they manage to get Anunoby back. But if Game 4 was any indication, the Knicks are finally starting to feel the weight of their exhausting postseason, while the Pacers are still raring to go.

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FINAL: Pacers 121, Knicks 89

On Friday, it looked like the Knicks had a real chance to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series. They couldn't quite seal the deal down the stretch, and they paid for it on Sunday as Indiana blew them out from the start. This series is now tied at two games apiece. The Pacers have all of the momentum and a far healthier roster. With Game 5 coming on Tuesday, Indiana will have a chance to deal the knockout blow against a depleted Knicks team. But the Madison Square Garden crowd lifted New York in the first two games of this series. They'll just have to hope it can do so again in Game 5. 

May 12, 2024, 9:55 PM
May. 12, 2024, 5:55 pm EDT
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The Pacers are winning...

  • The 3-point battle: 12 to 2.
  • The points in the paint battle: 44 to 36.
  • The rebounding battle: 35 to 25.
  • The fast-break points battle: 16 to 3.
  • The turnover battle: 10 to 8.
May 12, 2024, 9:15 PM
May. 12, 2024, 5:15 pm EDT
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At what point do the Knicks concede?

The Knicks are losing by 35 points. Their starters have been playing an absurd amount of minutes all postseason. At what point do the Knicks say enough is enough, pull them off the floor and just get ready for Game 5? What is left to be gained by playing the starters any more minutes today?

May 12, 2024, 9:06 PM
May. 12, 2024, 5:06 pm EDT
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Knicks open second half with McBride

Just something to watch for Game 5 if OG Anunoby continues to sit: the Knicks opened the second half with Deuce McBride, not Precious Achiuwa, in alongside Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, Josh Hart and Isaiah Hartenstein. That seems like a concession that they simply can't score enough to survive with two big men on the floor, and may hint at their plans moving forward in the series.

May 12, 2024, 9:03 PM
May. 12, 2024, 5:03 pm EDT
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Halftime: Pacers 69, Knicks 41

Well... not too much to say here. The Knicks look absolutely depleted after their gutting Game 3 loss as well as an entire postseason of relying on a very small number of (increasingly injured) players. Indiana is well on its way to a 2-2 series tie as we move back to New York for Game 5. If the Knicks can't go OG Anunoby back soon, this series might be over.

May 12, 2024, 8:40 PM
May. 12, 2024, 4:40 pm EDT
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Indiana's bench is tied with New York's whole team

The Pacers have scored 27 bench points. The Knicks have scored 27 total points. It just goes to show you how important health is this time of year. Indiana has a full complement of role players available to them. The Knicks are running out of bodies.

May 12, 2024, 8:29 PM
May. 12, 2024, 4:29 pm EDT
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Now Isaiah Hartenstein is in some pain

Isaiah Hartenstein just took a big fall on that layup and slammed his arm on the ground. He got up, but was clearly in pain. The Knicks are basically out of players at this point. They simply cannot afford another injury.

May 12, 2024, 8:25 PM
May. 12, 2024, 4:25 pm EDT
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The Knicks are finally playing in a game that isn't close

The average margin of victory in Knicks playoff games: 5.8 points. All but one game they've played this postseason has been either tied or swung on a one-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Well, now they trail 47-19. I'm sure they would have loved a break from all of those crazy close games, but this surely wasn't what they had in mind.

May 12, 2024, 8:23 PM
May. 12, 2024, 4:23 pm EDT
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Pascal Siakam having his way with Josh Hart

We shouldn't be surprised that Josh Hart can't defend Pascal Siakam. He has a half-foot size advantage over him. Hart may play bigger than his listed 6-4 height, but there are limits to that. Every shot Siakam takes looks like it's uncontested.

May 12, 2024, 8:16 PM
May. 12, 2024, 4:16 pm EDT
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Score after 1: Pacers a lot, Knicks a little

Indiana leads 34-14 after one quarter. New York's Villanova trio of Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo are 2-of-15 from the floor. The rest of the team isn't much better. The Knicks look like they've finally run into a wall after overperforming all postseason.

May 12, 2024, 8:08 PM
May. 12, 2024, 4:08 pm EDT
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The Pacers are even winning the rebounding battle

Here's how you know the Knicks aren't looking like the Knicks: Indiana even has a +13 rebounding advantage. That's a testament to the energy they've come out with so far in Game 4. The Knicks look exhausted after playing at half-strength at a torrid pace so far in this series. The Pacers look like they're just hitting their stride.

May 12, 2024, 8:06 PM
May. 12, 2024, 4:06 pm EDT
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The Knicks are getting bludgeoned

It's 34-11 in favor of the Pacers with 1:27 remaining in the first quarter. Everything is going Indiana's way. They're shooting 70% from the floor and 50% from deep. The Knicks are finally starting to show signs of fatigue after playing without half of their rotation. If the Knicks don't find something quickly, this series is going back to Madison Square Garden tied 2-2.

May 12, 2024, 8:01 PM
May. 12, 2024, 4:01 pm EDT
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Jericho Sims is not playoff-ready

Jericho Sims has barely played this postseason, and with good reason. He didn't play well in the regular season either. As soon as he checks in he gets called for an eight-second violation. This is just how depleted the Knicks are. They're just running out of viable players.

May 12, 2024, 7:58 PM
May. 12, 2024, 3:58 pm EDT
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Get Precious Achiuwa out of this lineup

The Knicks have eight points in more than eight minutes of play. That's what happens when you have only one healthy shot-creator and you're playing two big men. Precious Achiuwa can play some bench minutes, but the Knicks cannot play both of their big men together if they expect to survive offensively in this series. Deuce McBride is going to have to play the bulk of those minutes in place of OG Anunoby.

May 12, 2024, 7:56 PM
May. 12, 2024, 3:56 pm EDT
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We already have another controversial officiating moment

We're not even halfway through the first quarter and we already have yet another controversial moment involving officiating. Jalen Brunson was livid after an early 3-point attempt, and we just saw why: Aaron Nesmith clearly stuck his foot in Brunson's landing space, and nothing was called. This series has been fully of shaky officiating, and we're already seeing it in Game 4.

May 12, 2024, 7:52 PM
May. 12, 2024, 3:52 pm EDT
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Cannot leave Haliburton open

After those first two 3-pointers, Tyrese Haliburton is now 12-of-19 on wide-open 3's in this series and 4-of-15 on all other long-range attempts. This one is simple. It doesn't matter what other sacrifices you need to make defensively. Haliburton cannot get wide-open 3's. He's going to make all of them.

May 12, 2024, 7:47 PM
May. 12, 2024, 3:47 pm EDT
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Nesmith sticks on Brunson

Just a quick matchup note: Aaron Nesmith is still defending Jalen Brunson. He defended him well in Game 3 after the Pacers largely used Andrew Nembhard on him in the first two games. However, history tells us that Brunson tends to get Nesmith into foul trouble, so this is a story to watch as the game progresses.

May 12, 2024, 7:43 PM
May. 12, 2024, 3:43 pm EDT