Four keys to the Indiana Pacers winning Game 2 against the New York Knicks

With Game 2 rapidly approaching, now is a good time to discuss keys that the Pacers should keep in mind after losing Game 1 and how they can bounce back.
Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game One
Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game One / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

After being arguably robbed of a Game 1 win on the road, the Indiana Pacers face the New York Knicks once again on Wednesday for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Despite leading for the majority of Monday's game, multiple factors, most of which were attributed to poor refereeing cost the Pacers the game and the initial series lead. However, it is a new day, and the Pacers have a prime opportunity to take Game 2 and head back to Indiana with the series tied 1-1.

Indiana had a decent game plan in Game 1, which was to outrun the Knicks and control the pace of the game. While this worked out well enough at times, it was also not as effective as it could have been, as the Knicks had more fast break points than the Pacers, finishing with 20 compared to Indiana's 18.

This is the first key to Game 2 and the rest of the series. Indiana needs to control the pace better and run the Knicks out of the gym. Since New York is the slowest-paced team in the league, they will try their best to slow the game down to a crawl, preferably putting the ball in Jalen Brunson's hands for an isolation play, which worked beautifully for them in Game 1, as Brunson had 21 points in the 4th quarter in a comeback Knicks win.

This brings us to the second key to the game, which is centered around Jalen Brunson. Indiana did not do a good job containing Jalen Brunson in Game 1, keeping him in single coverage and allowing him to operate as he pleased, which resulted in him scoring 43 points on 14/26 shooting and 14/14 from the line.

Indiana needs to realize that Brunson actively seeks single coverage every time down the floor and stick an extra body on him, especially later in the game where every point means so much more. They also have to do this without fouling, as Brunson is automatic from the free-throw line, and the last thing Indiana wants to give New York is free points.

Additionally, the Pacers cannot afford to allow big games from the other Knicks. While Brunson's 43 points led the way for New York in Game 1, Josh Hart's 24 points on 9/13 shooting and Donte DiVincenzo's 25 points on 10/17 and 5/9 from deep, including the dagger at the end didn't exactly make things easy for Indiana either.

Similar to how the Milwaukee Bucks game planned for TJ McConnell for the majority of the first-round series, the Pacers must game plan for the Knicks' role players and guard the deep ball specifically, as they allowed New York to shoot a scorching 11/23 from deep in Game 1.

The final key is perhaps the most important and the one bothering Pacers fans the most, besides the officiating. Tyrese Haliburton was virtually nonexistent in Game 1, only taking six shots and finishing with six points. For Indiana to even have a remote chance of winning the series or even a game, Haliburton needs to step it up. Indiana only started winning against Milwaukee when Haliburton picked up his sloppy play and started shooting more. This is the issue, Haliburton simply does not shoot enough, especially for his status as a scorer.

When it comes to Haliburton's scoring game, or lack thereof at this point, his lack of driving is perhaps the biggest issue. Once a prolific finisher at the rim and welcomer of contact, Haliburton now seems reluctant to drive and finish, despite having around four inches of height on Brunson and still being able to finish when he chooses to drive.

This is clearly a confidence issue, as ever since his hamstring injury, he has been more reluctant to drive despite still being very effective around the rim, not to mention the recent back issues that have kept him as 'questionable' on the injury list since the first round.

There is no two ways about it, Indiana can play the best defense of their lives and run as fast as they can, but if they are not getting productive play from their star point guard who will get a maximum contract in the offseason, they will not make it much further than this.


Game 2 provides a fresh opportunity for Tyrese Haliburton and the Indiana Pacers to redeem themselves and tie up the series heading into Gainbridge Fieldhouse. With Reggie Miller on the call for Game 2, the Pacers look poised to do just that, as long as they follow these four keys, and, most importantly, Tyrese Haliburton decides to take advantage of his own skill and take every shot the defense gives him.