Studs and Duds: The Knicks were an embarrassment in Game 4 blowout loss

May 12, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA;  Indiana Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard (2) dribbles the ball while  New York Knicks guard Alec Burks (18) 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

The New York Knicks found themselves in treacherous waters as they saved their worst showing of the season for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Led by Tyrese Haliburton, the Indiana Pacers dominated from the opening tip as they extended their home game win streak to 10. A poor shooting night for the Knicks saw the Villanova trio of Hart, DiVincenzo, and Brunson go 10/36 from the field. The Pacers came away with a commanding 121–89 victory.

Studs: Alec Burks provides quality minutes off the bench 

May 12, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA;  Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) shoots the ball while New York Knicks guard Alec Burks (18) defends during game four of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
May 12, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) shoots the ball while New York Knicks guard Alec Burks (18) defends during game four of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The fact that Alec Burks led all scoring for the Knicks is a testament to his leadership and reliability. The locker room vet Burks is averaging 17 points over the last two games as Thibodeau has looked to him for a spark off the bench for the Knicks.

Before being traded to New York, Burks was a regular in the Detroit Pistons rotation, having stretches where he averaged over 20 points per game. Scoring 11 points in the second quarter before finishing with 20 in the contest, Coach Thibodeau has a high note to leave with as the playoffs continue.

Duds: The entire rest of the team 

May 12, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA;  Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) dribbles the ball while New York Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) defends during game four of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
May 12, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) dribbles the ball while New York Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) defends during game four of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

There are not too many words that can be used to describe the performance of the New York Knicks in Game 4. The Knicks started 2-12 from the field and went down 21 points in the first quarter. The Knicks showed a total lack of ingenuity and determination as the Pacers, time and again, hit open looks from three-point range.

Indiana had 10-made threes in the first half alone as six Pacers players scored in double figures. The reality of New York being on the verge of up 3-0 before the infamous Nembhard three to give new life to the Pacers. With that newfound energy, the Pacers have taken all the momentum from New York in two demoralizing games.

The low tenacity and weak defense from New York could be due to a lack of stamina with so many players’ minutes being extended, but the Knicks are the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference and lost pathetically. Attempting to mount a comeback became more mental as the game progressed, with New York going 2/20 from beyond the arc, ultimately finishing 7/37 on 18% from the field.

The lead became insurmountable as it peaked at an embarrassing 43 points, with the Knicks not scoring 68 points until the 8-minute mark of the fourth. The Pacers had 68 points in the first half. The Knicks looked gassed by the second quarter, and a loss is a loss, but to what degree can be the catalyst or cataclysm? The Knicks are not in control of the series, and the likelihood is now the winner of Game 5 will win the series.

Takeaways from the Knicks’ Game 4 loss to the Pacers

The meltdown of New York in Game 4 is an example of why their ceiling may not exist past the Eastern Conference Finals. Championship teams lose games, but there is an underlying understanding that to be a champion in the NBA, there is no night off.

The Knicks took the night off in Game 4, then proceeded to acknowledge there are no excuses for such a loss. Accountability is tremendous, but being down 40 points to the sixth seed raises the questions that now give a level of confidence to Indiana that they could steal this series.

OG Anunoby has been sidelined for the last couple of games with a hamstring strain, and without Anunoby, the responsibilities on the defensive end become jaded. Relying on Anunoby for Game 5 would be malpractice, and the Knicks have the talent and capabilities to defeat the Indiana Pacers.

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