How the Knicks’ playoff outlook might be affected by the Pascal Siakam trade

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau coaches against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A recent blockbuster trade could spell trouble for the New York Knicks. Pascal Siakam’s trade from the Toronto Raptors to the Indiana Pacers reverberated throughout the NBA Eastern Conference on Wednesday. The up-and-coming Pacers paired Tyrese Haliburton with a championship co-star while shaking up the current playoff picture.

The Knicks Have a New Foe to Look Out For in the East

Why? The Pacers (23-17) are only one game below the Knicks (24-17) in the standings. If the playoffs started today, the Knicks would be game-planning for the Rick Carlisle-led ball club.

Beyond that, Haliburton gets teammates involved with a level of efficiency that is rivaled by few. Siakam plays a brand of basketball that’ll ideally mesh well with Haliburton as a knockdown midrange shooter that can leak out to the corners and score in a variety of ways in the screen-and-roll.

The Knicks feature a point guard-power forward duo of Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle and a supporting cast that mirrors much of the Pacers’ fabric. What separates the two offenses is speed.

Can the Knicks Make Moves to Be Able to Run With the Pacers & The Fastest NBA Teams?

The Pacers fly up and down the court with the second-highest pace in the league (103.3) while the Knicks have yet to do so with the fourth-slowest offense among all teams (98.04).

Teams will start looking to gel as 2024 gains steam. The Pacers have a head start over a Knicks team with added pressure to strengthen their roster before the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

With both teams excelling in conference play with win percentages north of 55 percent, the Knicks will have to put their foot on the gas to maintain their position as the No. 3 seed in the East while keeping a close eye on the Pacers creeping up on their heels.

The Knicks are down 0-1 in the season series after suffering a crushing 140-126 loss to the Pacers on Dec. 30 and will have a chance to get even and feel out their improved competition on Feb. 1. Win or lose, that will set precedent for any moves made by the deadline.

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