3 Key Takeaways From Knicks Game 5 Win Over Pacers

The New York Knicks took a commanding 3-2 lead over the Pacers thanks in part to massive contributions from a few roles players.
May 14, 2024; New York, New York, USA;  American film director Spike Lee celebrates with former
May 14, 2024; New York, New York, USA; American film director Spike Lee celebrates with former / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks, after looking absolutely dead in Game 4, handled business at Madison Square Garden to take a massive 3-2 series lead over the Indiana pacers.

The Knicks were once again without OG Anunoby as the forward began doing "light work" on the court in a work toward a return.

The Knicks will now look to close the series out in Indiana on Friday to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2000. Here are the three biggest takeaways from the most important Knicks win since 2000.

1. Jalen Brunson Doubters Are Clearly Wrong

In the first round, Jalen Brunson led the Knicks to a series win over Joel Embiid, a player who will be playing in this summer's Olympics for Team USA over Brunson. Round Two pitted Brunson against Tyrese Haliburton, the player who started over Brunson in the All-Star Game and will also be playing for Team USA this Summer.

Jalen Brunson was his usual dominant self in Game 5, scoring 44 points with 4 rebounds and 7 assists. He was also highly efficient, shooting 18-of-35 from the field, 2-of-6 from 3-point range, and 6-of-7 from the free throw line. Brunson is scoring 32.9 points with 7.6 assists in 40.8 minutes per game in the postseason.

Brunson's counterpart Tyrese Haliburton had a miserable game, scoring just 13 points with 5 assists and 2 rebounds. Haliburton shot just nine times and his lack of production was a major reason for the Pacers inability to break 100 points for the first time this series.

Thus far Jalen Brunson has proved to everyone who said that the Knicks don't have a true number one is incredibly wrong. The Knicks star is single-handedly winning the Knicks games at this point and he's been one of the impressive players on any team in the NBA Playoffs.

2. Tom Thibodeau's Small-Ball Lineup is Incredibly Effective

The Knicks debuted a new starting lineup on Tuesday, and the group helped the Knicks start incredibly fast offensively. They opted to play small, starting Deuce McBride instead of Precious Achiuwa alongside Brunson, Hart, Hartenstein, and DiVincenzo. The lineup helped the Knicks in scoring 38 points in the first quarter — the most they've scored in the first quarter of any postseason game.

The Knicks offense had more space without Achiuwa and Hartenstein on the floor together, and they were able to push the pace to match the Pacers. The rest of the game showed it, as the Knicks kep t the tempo up and outscored Indiana by nearly ten points in every quarter.

The Knicks may now look to use this lineup going forward, as it proved incredibly effective for Tom Thibodeau. McBride was great in his forty minutes playing alongside the starters, scoring 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting while adding incredible defense. The Pacers being forced to go small allowed the Knicks to dominate the glass, out-rebounding Indiana 53-29 with Hartenstein grabbing 17.

3. Alec Burks Has Proven His Value

Down the stretch of the regular season and for the majority of this postseason, trade deadline acquisition Alec Burks has found himself on the end of the bench as Tom Thibodeau banished him from the rotation. The injury to OG Anunoby has allowed for Burks to try and earn a role now.

While his play tonight put Burks in the good graces of Knicks fans, he instantly earned the respect of Knicks fans by sticking up for Donte DiVincenzo after a hard foul from Isaiah Jackson. Burks was also deadly from downtown, shooting 5-of-8 from deep while finishing with 18 points.

Hart spoke on Burks saying the following:

"He's a true professional. He's someone who's staying ready. You see him every day working hard, getting shots up, getting his work in. That's what pros do."

Josh Hart

If Burks continues to play this well offensively he will certainly be a piece of the team's rotation going forwards. The Anunoby injury may be a blessing if he returns, as the Knicks can now lean on Burks to give some of the other players a bit of rest.

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