Knicks’ Josh Hart suffers worst playoff performance in Game 4 vs. Pacers after historic Game 3

May 12, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Pascal Siakam (43) shoots the ball while New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3)  defends during game four 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 star Josh Hart posted a dud in their 121-89 Game 4 loss to the Indiana Pacers after matching a 25-year-old playoff milestone in Game 3.

Hart posted a mere two points and three rebounds on Sunday afternoon after going for 15 rebounds in Game 2 and 18 rebounds in Game 3. Per SNY on X, Hart’s back-to-back 15-rebound outings had not been seen by a Knicks player since Patrick Ewing in the 1999 NBA Playoffs (h/t Ben Stinar of Fan Nation’s Fastbreak):

Knicks’ Josh Hart put his name in the franchise record books with his performance in Game 3

May 10, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) reacts to a made basket during game three of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
May 10, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) reacts to a made basket during game three of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Villanova product was not the only Knicks player to struggle on the day. Aside from their centers, no Knicks player shot better than 45.5 percent from the field. To the exception of Brunson, four of their starters scored in single digits.

The disappointing outing comes directly after Hart matched Ewing’s pair of 15-rebound performances in Games 1 and 2 of the Knicks’ first-round series against the Miami Heat in 1999. Hart also corraled the eighth-highest single-game rebounding total in franchise history with his 18 boards in Game 3.

The 29-year-old has been tremendous for the Knicks on the glass since joining the team at last season’s trade deadline. Hart has upped the ante with a career-high average of 8.3 rebounds in the 2023-24 regular season and has exploded in these 2024 Playoffs. His 18 boards prior to Sunday’s blunder marked the seventh time he’s pulled down at least 13 in New York’s ten playoff outings so far.

Was Hart impacted by Knicks HC Tom Thibodeau’s bigger lineup in Game 4?

NBA: Utah Jazz at New York Knicks
Jan 30, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau reacts during the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks have thrived with Hart as their leading glass-cleaner throughout the postseason. At 6-4, he’s led the way for New York even over starting center Isaiah Hartenstein and backup centers Mitchell Robinson and Jericho Sims, all of whom are 7-0. Albeit, in Game 4, Thibodeau elected to start the 6-8 Precious Achiuwa next to Hartenstein, shifting Hart over to the three slot and crowding the interior with bigger bodies.

Though that lineup change did not avail much as the Knicks lost the rebounding battle 43-27, Hart’s dominance on the boards when the floor was more opened up against a four-wing Philadelphia 76ers lineup in the first round and when matched up with Pacers power forward Pascal Siakam, was not seen in Game 4.

Hart rebounding from his down game will be instrumental in helping the Knicks advance to the Eastern Conference Finals and secure their first NBA Finals berth since Ewing’s Knicks in 1999. He’ll look to get active on the boards and on offense once more in Game 5 on Tuesday.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: