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Indiana Pacers beat New York Knicks in Game 4 to clinch an even NBA playoff series

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Pacers followed an outright victory in Game 3 with a nearly wire-to-wire blowout in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, defeating the New York Knicks 121-89 on Sunday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. draw at 2-2 after trailing 2-0.

That sets up a crucial Game 5 on Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Madison Square Garden and guarantees a Game 6 on Friday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

Here are four observations from Game 4:

Pacers defense overwhelms Knicks

The Pacers gave up more points than all but three other teams in the NBA in the regular season, giving up 120.2 points per game to finish 27th in the league in scoring defense. They also ranked 24th in defensive rating, allowing 117.6 points per 100 possessions.

Prior to Sunday, they were one of the worst defensive teams in the playoffs. Of the 16 teams that reached the first round, they ranked 15th in scoring defense (113.1 points per game) and defensive rating (119.9 points per 100 possessions). Only the Phoenix Suns were worse in both categories, and they were swept by the Timberwolves in four games in Round 1.

But on Sunday, it was on defense that the Pacers overwhelmed a Knicks team that seemed to finally be running out of gas after two stretches of playing crazy minutes for the starters and relying heavily on their stars.

The Pacers held the Knicks to just 14 points in the first quarter — matching the 14 they allowed against the Bucks in the third quarter of Game 1 for the fewest they had allowed in a playoff game and for the fewest they had allowed in any quarter of the regular season. or postseason, as they held the Cavaliers to just 12 points in the second quarter during a win at Cleveland on October 28. They held the Knicks to 6 of 23 shooting, including 1 of 8 from 3-point range, while the Knicks shot just 0.57. points per possession for the period. Meanwhile, the Pacers scored 34 points in the quarter on 14 of 23 shooting, good for 1.45 points per possession.

The Knicks scored in the 20s over the next two quarters but never fully recovered. With forward Aaron Nesmith and guards Andrew Nembhard and TJ McConnell leading the way, the Pacers held All-Star guard Jalen Brunson to just 18 points on 6 of 17 shooting. Sharpshooter Donte DiVincenzo made just 3 of 13 field goals, including just 1 of 6 three-pointers, and scored seven points. The fourth quarter was played between the two teams’ end benches, but the Knicks finished 30 of 89 from the floor (33.7%), 7 of 37 from 3-point range (18.9%) and achieved a paltry 0.88 points per game. possess.

Getting stops allowed the Pacers to spend much of the game in transition. They scored 22 fast-break points to the Knicks’ five, but that figure didn’t reflect how much time the Pacers spent scoring against a defense that wasn’t set. The Pacers shot 56.8% from the floor, including 45.2% from 3-point range, scored 60 points in the paint and posted 1.25 points per possession.

Pacers get what they need from their stars

Sunday’s blowout score allowed the Pacers to be starters for the entire fourth quarter, but in the minutes they played, they were as efficient as the team could have asked for.

All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton didn’t have to come close to the 26 shots he made in Game 3. Even with a sprained ankle, lower back spasms and a sacrum contusion, he scored 20 points on 8 of 15 shooting, including 4 of ten three-pointers to go with five assists and six rebounds. All-Star forward Pascal Siakam took advantage of the continued absence of Knicks forward and former Raptors teammate OG Anunoby with a hamstring strain, scoring 14 points on 7 of 9 shooting. Center Myles Turner made all five of his field goal attempts and all three of his three-pointers for 13 points. He also grabbed five rebounds and had three assists.

Nembhard also scored nine points on 4 of 5 shooting and had five assists. Nesmith had eight points and 12 rebounds to round out the starting five.

Pacers bench recovers from rough Game 3

After the Pacers’ Game 2 loss, fans and even the national media wondered why the Pacers weren’t down some of their substitutes at the end of the game, as all four bench players who appeared had plus-minus numbers of +9 or had better. and they outscored the Knicks’ bench 46-12, while all five starters were -9 or worse, while guard Andrew Nembhard and center Myles Turner posted -21 marks.

However, no such discussion was had after the Pacers’ Game 3 win. The bench scored just 14 points on 7 of 22 shooting. Second unit point guard TJ McConnell was -19 in Game 3 after being +10 in Game 2.

On Sunday, the bank reversed the script. They outscored the Knicks 27-14 in the first half alone, with McConnell and forward Obi Toppin each scoring 10 points before halftime. McConnell added four assists before halftime and played tough full-court defense and was +20 before halftime.

McConnell finished with 15 points and 10 assists and was +27. Toppin had 14. Adding in the end of the bench allowed to play in the fourth quarter, the Pacers’ bench outscored New York’s 57-50.

Pacers win on boards again

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle continued to say the game will be won on rebounds and loose balls, and the Pacers were strong in that regard in Games 3 and 4 after struggling on the road in Games 1 and 2.

The Pacers won the rebounding battle 52-43. The Knicks got more offensive rebounds, but also had more opportunities with all their misses. Through three quarters, the two teams were even tied for second-chance points with eight. The Knicks finished with 12 to New York’s eight, but that difference was insignificant.

This article originally appeared in Indianapolis Star: Indiana Pacers beat New York Knicks in Game 4, even NBA playoff series