NBA Playoffs: What to expect in the Knicks-Pacers series

All-Star teammates Jalen Brunson and Tyrese Haliburton now meet as opponents, their respective seasons hanging in the balance.

It took a little longer than either team would have liked – both the Knicks and Pacers suffered disappointing losses in Game 5 before eliminating the Sixers and Bucks, respectively. But they managed to put together a new franchise team in a doubleheader on Thursday. exciting semifinals of the Eastern Conference 2013.

Indiana won the 2023-24 season series 2-1, outscoring the Knicks by an average of 123.3-115.3. All three meetings took place before the All-Star break, so it's been a while.

Series plan

Here's how to watch the Knicks vs. Pacers series:

All times Eastern Daylight Time

  • Game 1: Pacers vs. Knicks, Monday, May 6 (7:30 p.m., TNT)
  • Game 2: Pacers vs. Knicks, Wednesday, May 8 (8 p.m., TNT)
  • Game 3: Knicks vs. Pacers, Friday, May 10 (7 p.m., ESPN)
  • Game 4: Knicks vs. Pacers, Sunday, May 12 (3:30 p.m., ABC)
  • Game 5: Pacers vs. Knicks (TBD, TBD) *
  • Game 6: Knicks vs. Pacers (TBD, TBD) *
  • Game 7: Pacers vs. Knicks (TBD, TNT) *

* = If required

Top storyline

Battle of the point guards. Jalen Brunson and Tyrese Haliburton, teammates on the East All-Star squad a few months ago, now meet as opponents, their respective seasons on the line and a trip to the Conference Finals upon them. Brunson will likely be in the top five in the Kia MVP voting. Haliburton led the NBA in assists. Both could end up on All-NBA teams.

Everyone was the driving force of their team, but approached the work in their own way. Haliburton is a lanky, pass-happy playmaker who drove the equivalent of an Indy 500 car, with the Pacers leading the NBA with 123.3 points per game.

Brunson is a strong, stocky grinder who has improved his game through injuries to teammates like Julius Randle, OG Anunoby and Mitchell Robinson.

This season against the Pacers, Brunson averaged 35.7 points, shot 49.4% and got to the line 10 times per game. Haliburton was Indiana's leading scorer against New York, with a 19.7 average and 13.3 assists. Whoever wins this match will likely lead their team to another round.

Keep an eye on it

Knicks' D vs. Pacers' O The Pacers were held under 100 points just once in 82 regular season games. Then Milwaukee, no longer known for its defense, stopped them twice in the first four games of their first-round series, by scores of 94 and 92.

Now it's the Knicks' turn. Don't think coach Tom Thibodeau won't be aware of what the Bucks have done with their substitutions and cross-matchups. They'll need every trick they can learn, as the Pacers scored 30 points or more in eight of the 12 quarters between the teams. Their shooters hit 47.6% of their 3-point attempts and 54.6% overall.

The key is to soften Indiana's offense. The Pacers ranked second in the NBA in pace, averaging 16.6 fast break points. Forcing them to play in the half court, stay isolated and fight the shot clock is a recipe for disrupting their rhythm.

1 more point to consider for every team

For the Knicks: OG Anunoby. A pesky and versatile defender, Anunoby only played one game against Indiana – and that was back in November, when he was still playing for Toronto. After moving to New York, he was inactive at all three meets. Elbow surgery cost him two months, but the Knicks were 20-3 with him in the lineup, and whatever you think of plus/minus ratings, Anunoby was a plus in all 23 appearances. He expects to get minutes against his old Raptors teammate Pascal Siakam.

For the Pacers: Myles Turner. Turner is the Pacers' longest-tenured dean in terms of playoff experience. He's in 32 games and counting over six postseasons and is now out of the first round for the first time. He failed in the decisive game against Milwaukee (1 of 6, 5 points, 4 fouls), but he averaged 22.0 points and shot 47.4% from distance in the first five games. He won't be the liability that Philadelphia's Joel Embiid was to Isaiah Hartenstein and Robinson, but Turner moves better, is more dangerous with threes and finishes the breaks strong.

The selection

Knicks in six. It's more likely that New York sets the pace for this series, which will negate Indiana's greatest strength, its faster preferred style. Brunson has been irrepressible, averaging 31 points since the All-Star break with a usage rating (35.5) that would match Luka Doncic's season mark. Role players Anunoby, Hartenstein, Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo are bold additions. And while we don't want to put too much weight on the in-season tournament, the Pacers are down with the NBA Cup on the line in Las Vegas. This stage is even bigger.

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Steve Aschburner has been writing about the NBA since 1980. You can email him here, his archive can be found here and Follow him on X.

The views on this site do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Warner Bros. Discovery.

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