Knicks Demolish Pacers in Game 5 Thanks to 44 Points From Jalen Brunson

A little more than midway through the first quarter on Tuesday, Madison Square Garden supporters witnessed a change in their squad as the Knicks outscored the Pacers 18-7 to end the frame.

However, guard Miles McBride, who saw a noticeable improvement for the team after being added to New York’s starting lineup, claimed the improvement came much earlier.

“I think the shift started in the locker room in Indiana. We talked about it and knew we had to respond,” McBride stated, alluding to the players-only gathering the Knicks had following their humiliating 32-point defeat in Sunday’s Game 4.

In the fifth game of the best-of-seven series, the outcome was completely different: the Knicks outscored Indiana 121-91 to grab a 3-2 lead. On Friday night, they’ll head to Indianapolis in hopes of eliminating the Pacers and making it to their first Eastern Conference finals since 2000.

After a terrible performance in Game 4, Jalen Brunson bounced back to lead the Knicks with 44 points and seven assists. He scored at least 40 points for the fifth time in the semifinals, making him the player with the most in a single postseason since LeBron James had eight in 2018.

The Pacers’ decision to support Brunson made the outburst noteworthy. During the course of Game 5, they unleashed a stunning 28 double-teams on the guard, which is eight more than Indiana had employed against him in the combined first four games. Due to the amount of room Brunson and the Knicks had to work with when McBride was added to the starting five, the strategy—which was useful in Game 4 when the team began two big men—was ineffective on Tuesday. Second Spectrum statistics indicates that McBride established a career high of 23 on-ball screenings, which is almost quadruple what it was before.

“[McBride] definitely helps us with spacing because he has the ability to make shots and also can make plays when people rotate over to him. He was in that position today, and he played really well,” About the third-year guard, who started in place of power big Precious Achiuwa and finished with 17 points and four assists while containing Indiana standout Tyrese Haliburton, Brunson said.

Data indicated that McBride might be a good starter because the Knicks, who had Isaiah Hartenstein, Josh Hart, Donte DiVincenzo, and Brunson in the lineup during the regular season, were a terrific team. In just 172 minutes of play with those five players on the court during the campaign, the Knicks defeated opponents by 104 points, their best raw plus/minus of any five-man bunch.

After the crushing defeat in Indiana during Game 4, Haliburton stated that he and his teammates thought McBride may get the start. They were unprepared for the Knicks to dominate the glass in such a manner.

Haliburton, who averaged almost thirty points in Games 2, 3, and 4, ended with just 13 points and five assists in Game 5. “They had a busy day making shots, But with the ones they did miss, they grabbed the offensive rebounds,” Haliburton added.

On the glass, New York, the NBA’s top offensive rebounding team during the regular season, left their mark. After one half, the Knicks had 12 more offensive rebounds than the Pacers had in total (11). And when the Pacers decided to bench their starters with 4:16 left in the game, Hartenstein and Hart had combined for as many rebounds (28) as Indiana had as a team. In second-chance points throughout the game, New York outscored Indiana 26–9.

“With their smaller lineup, intuitively you would think it gives us a better chance to do well on the boards. But their overall level of fight in this game was superior to what ours was. And that’s the bottom line,”  said to Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, is that his team’s effort was “embarrassing.”

In the second half, the Knicks took the lead 17-0 in the third quarter and effectively ended the game. During that stretch, DiVincenzo ignited the Garden crowd with a jammed home run off a Brunson miss.

After that play, DiVincenzo collided with Myles Turner of the Pacers, forcing Turner to approach the Knicks guard as they made their way back down the floor. Every player received a technical foul as a result of the brief altercation and foul language.

“They’re trying to be tough guys, and that’s not their identity—nobody is going to fight in the NBA,” DiVincenzo said of Turner following the game. You’re not a manly figure.

Whether or whether there will be a Game 7 on Sunday in New York could depend on how much fortitude the young Pacers, who have never been to this point before, have left.

“There’s no excuses, but all the guys on our roster, I believe it’s the first time they’ve been in a Game 5, tied 2-2, going on the road. So you learn a lot in those situations very quickly,” Carlisle stated, “So this is a different circumstance, and as a playoff series, it’s going to get harder and harder.”

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