Knicks’ role players provided quality minutes despite Game 3 loss vs Pacers

May 10, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) shoots the ball while Indiana Pacers forward Pascal Siakam (43) defends during game three of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks were forced to rely on their bench in Game 3 with so many key players out of the lineup due to injuries. The Knicks ultimately fell short, however, their role players stepped up and contributed quality minutes in the contest.

The Knicks got quality minutes off the bench

New York Knicks guard Alec Burks (18) dribbles the ball up court in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena
New York Knicks guard Alec Burks (18) dribbles the ball up court in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena | Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being taken out of the rotation in recent weeks, Alec Burks stepped in unbothered and gave New York 21 minutes of quality playing time. His 21 minutes of playing time were the highest Burks has logged since March 21st.

Burks dropped 14 points off the bench on 4-6 shooting and also added one assist and four total rebounds with zero turnovers. His scoring came as a surprise, but a welcomed one.

Miles McBride also contributed to the Knicks’ scoring output, posting 10 points in 29 minutes. McBride, known for his defensive capabilities, finished the game with a +/- rating of +11 — a team-best. His 29 minutes were the most he had played in the series so far.

Backups are playing big roles for the Knicks

May 6, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Pascal Siakam (43) controls the ball against New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) during the second quarter of game one of the second round of the 2024 NBA playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
May 6, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Pascal Siakam (43) controls the ball against New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) during the second quarter of game one of the second round of the 2024 NBA playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In addition to their contributors off the bench last night, the Knicks also had typical reserve players in the starting lineup delivering quality performances. Isaiah Hartenstein continues to get the starting nod since the team lost both Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson to season-ending injuries this year. But now Precious Achiuwa has also been inserted into the lineup with OG Anunoby dealing with a hamstring injury.

Achiuwa logged 22 minutes in Game 3, totaling just five points on 2-3 shooting. He contributed well on the defensive side of the ball with three blocks, but it was Achiuwa’s rebounding that made the biggest impact. The backup forward snagged six boards including four offensive rebounds.

The Knicks have been hesitant to expand their rotation this season. While they still only utilized a seven-man rotation in Game 3, they got quality contributions from their role players. This should encourage Tom Thibodeau to lean on his bench a bit more going forward and feel comfortable that his team can still close out the series as the Knicks hold a 2-1 lead over the Pacers.

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