Can Knicks rising star make good on his goal to leave Pacers stars scoreless?

May 17, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) dribbles the ball while New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) defends during game six of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks guard Miles McBride made strong declarations about his defense before their 116-103 Game 6 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Friday that he didn’t deliver on, but has the chance to do so in the most important game of the year on Sunday afternoon.

Miles McBride aiming to lock down the Pacers in Game 7

May 14, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) reacts after a basket during the first half during game five of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
May 14, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) reacts after a basket during the first half during game five of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Per AOL, Dustin Dopirak of the Indianapolis Star revealed statements McBride made before Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals regarding his aim to leave his defensive matchup scoreless on a nightly basis.

“My goal is for guys to go scoreless and make a minimal impact on the game,” McBride said after stating his intent to take his defense up another notch before the eventual loss.

“I gotta go up a level as we do as a whole team. I think if we do things the same way, we won’t get the same result if we don’t go up a level.”

Knicks: Miles McBride’s defense did not go up a level in the Game 6 loss to Pacers

May 17, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) looks to pass the ball while New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) defends during game six of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
May 17, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) looks to pass the ball while New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) defends during game six of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

While his goals hyperbolically accentuate how intensely he approaches playing defense, McBride did not shut down Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton, who delivered 15 points, nine assists, and six rebounds on 50 percent shooting from the floor.

McBride is slated to start in Game 7 for the Knicks at home against the Pacers on Sunday afternoon. His defense will be one of, if not the most crucial factors of the contest.

McBride has home-court advantage on his side against Haliburton’s strong play at MSG

Feb 1, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) controls the ball against New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 1, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) controls the ball against New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Both teams have protected home court without fail, but anything can happen in a winner-take-all series clincher. Haliburton is the Pacers’ driving force. Indiana likely won’t be able to will themselves to a win offensively without his steady scoring, outside shooting, and unparalleled passing.

It will all hang on McBride if he shuts down the 2024 NBA All-Star or lets him run rampant at Madison Square Garden. The Pacers’ franchise player is averaging 17.7 points and 7.3 assists per game on 52.9 percent shooting from the field, 50 percent shooting from three-point range and 87.5 percent shooting from the free-throw line on the Knicks‘ home floor. He’s shooting 11.8 percent better from outside than in their three home wins, though he’s scoring 5.6 less points in the same breath.

McBride has a tall task on his hand in containing the reigning NBA assists leader. Albeit, the 23-year-old will have an electric home crowd behind him to help him stifle Haliburton as best as possible.

Will McBride have to sacrifice scoring to contain Haliburton in Game 7?

Forcing Haliburton to take tough shots and keeping his efficiency low will go a long way for New York. This will help put pressure on Indiana’s other contributors to show up scoring the ball.

McBride did score 20 points in 35 minutes in their Game 6 loss. He’ll need to juggle his offensive workload with exerting as much focus on defending the Pacers’ floor general as possible to satisfy his personal expectations and be a potential catalyst for the Knicks’ first Eastern Conference Finals berth in 24 years.

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