Studs No Duds: Knicks are one win away from ECF after commanding victory in Game 5

May 14, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) reacts after making a three point basket during the second half during game five of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Tied 2-2 in the series entering Tuesday night’s matchup, the New York Knicks looked rejuvenated in Game 5. New York allowed Indiana to force them away from their style of play early in Game 4 as the Pacers coasted to a blowout win in unthinkable fashion. Jalen Brunson, after being hobbled in the previous two games, looked back in peak form along with the entire rotation. He led the Knicks to a commanding 121–91 win.

Studs: Jalen Brunson Masterclass

May 14, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) drives for a shot in front of Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner (33) and center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) during game five of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
May 14, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) drives for a shot in front of Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner (33) and center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) during game five of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The masterful performance from Brunson may indicate dark days ahead for the Indiana Pacers. Indiana has won 10 straight home games, with their last loss dating back to March 18th, but following 44 points and seven assists from all three levels, Jalen Brunson is not done yet.

The 10-point first quarter was just the “revving of the engine” as Brunson followed it up with an 18-point second quarter, decimating every mismatch against a young Pacers lineup. Doing the heavy lifting offensively and winning games, many analysts have been left perplexed by Brunson’s ability to seize the moment and handle business when it is time to.

The 44-point performance in Game 5 was Brunson’s fifth 40-point game this postseason, the most in a postseason since LeBron James in 2018.

Studs: Isaiah Hartenstein Huge Night

May 14, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) rebounds against Indiana Pacers forward Obi Toppin (1) during the second half during game five of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
May 14, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) rebounds against Indiana Pacers forward Obi Toppin (1) during the second half during game five of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The summer that’s in store for Isaiah Hartenstein will be the most lucrative of his NBA tenure thus far. The big man is walking into free agency following a phenomenal showing all season long. Firstly, taking over duties as starting center, and the Knicks didn’t skip a beat.

It can be argued, they were even better given the versatility of Hartenstein, and in Game 5 that was on full display. Scoring seven points was modest, but adding 17 rebounds, 12 of which were offensive rebounds, tied the Knicks franchise record for offensive boards.

Studs: Miles McBride and Josh Hart provide sparks

May 14, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) reacts in front of guard Josh Hart (3) during the second half during game five of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
May 14, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) reacts in front of guard Josh Hart (3) during the second half during game five of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The utility belt of the Knicks has remained Josh Hart. Every matchup is in his favor, being only 6-foot-4, Hart has made up for his size with tenacity and determination. A poor night from the floor in Game 4 saw a much more devoted Hart in Game 5. Now, with back-to-back games playing under 40 minutes, one might say Hart is rejuvenated and looking to close it out in Game 6 after a brilliant 18-point and 11 assists in Game 5.

While Hart keeps the team’s foundation from caving in, Miles McBride is installing a new fence around the perimeter. The lack of personnel that can self-create and score at will left the Knicks in a territory of predictability. That aura is much easier to get away from when players like McBride, DiVincenzo, and Burks are in the zone.

McBride has averaged 14 points in his last three games, showing a newfound confidence in a matchup that, at the start of the series, seemed to get the best of him. The Pacers’ young guard and wing depth may be inexperienced, but there is a level of cohesion that exists, and McBride is playing much better against them after a rough start to the series. 

Takeaways from the Knicks’ Game 5 win over the Pacers

The job is not finished. Celebrating the win in Game 5 is deserved, but seeing the unpredictability in this series, the Knicks faithful and players alike must be ready in Game 6. The Pacers are on a remarkable run at home in the last two months, and it will take the best New York has to put the Pacers away and avoid a Game 7.

New York is one win away from being in the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 24 years. Allowing the likes of Alec Burks and Miles McBride to maximize themselves adds an element of surprise and variety to the Knicks. This component will allow them to compete in the next round against the Celtics or Cavaliers, the only step now is to get there. 

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