Knicks: 3 players that need to step up in Game 4

NBA: Playoffs-New York Knicks at Indiana Pacers
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks nearly stole Game 3 on the road in Indiana, but the lack of healthy players was too much for them as they came up just short of taking a commanding 3-0 series lead. With OG Anunoby out and Jalen Brunson battling a foot injury, the Knicks got big performances from Donte DiVincenzo (35 points) and Alec Burks (14 points off the bench), which is a big reason why they were in it until the final possession.

However, Anunoby will remain unavailable for Game 4 and potentially beyond that, meaning that the Knicks will need more guys to step up if they look to close out the series versus the Pacers.

Here are three players that the Knicks will need to step up in Game 4:

1. Precious Achiuwa

Precious Achiuwa got the start in Game 3 in place of Anunoby, his first start since March 10, and while he made some key defensive plays with three blocks on the night, he failed to make a true impact everywhere else.

Achiuwa played 22 minutes and scored just five points, and had six rebounds, honing a plus-minus of -6. Now, it’s worth noting that starting him alongside Isaiah Hartenstein eliminates frontcourt spacing, thanks to Achiuwa’s inability to stretch the floor, so potentially having him come off of the bench might benefit him more.

Regardless of whether or not he starts, the Knicks are going to need more offensive production out of Achiuwa, as their bench unit is as thin as it has ever been. Three-pointers are not his strength, so he will need to more aggressive inside the paint and will have to be willing to absorb more contact to draw fouls and get clean looks.

2. Miles McBride

Miles McBride had his best game of the second round in Game 3, as he scored 10 points in 29 points including two made three-pointers. However, the past four games have been a struggle for him after a strong first round series versus the Philadelphia 76ers, as since Game 6 of that series he is averaging just 4.3 points and is shooting just 28% from the floor.

McBride has made the most of the opportunities that have been given to him, but they are going to need him to get going offensively more than ever before with Brunson playing hobbled.

He is the team’s main source of offense from the bench unit, so if he is able to find a rhythm, that allows some of the starters to get much-needed breathers, which could be huge for them down the stretch of a close game.

3. Alec Burks

Prior to Game 3, Alec Burks had logged just 44 seconds of playoff action this year. All the injuries to the Knicks forced Burks to play significant minutes in Game 3, and he delivered, scoring 14 points on 4-6 shooting from the floor (2-3 from three) in 21 minutes off the bench.

However, one game is not enough to declare that the Burks of the old is back. He will have to continue to give the Knicks quality minutes if they want to stay in control of the series while missing several key players.

The hope is that Burks can replicate the shooting prowess that Bojan Bogdanovic gave them off the bench before he suffered season-ending injuries to his wrist and ankle in the first round. If Burks can do that, the bench will be in better shape and can give the Knicks a reliable option to go to moving forward.

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