Pacers lose Game 5 in embarrassing fashion off rebounding battle

The Indiana Pacers are one game away from elimination, and they have the rebounding battle to blame for a lot of it.
Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game Five
Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game Five / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The Indiana Pacers built up some promising momentum after a blowout Game 4 win at home. Following this 32-point clobbering of the New York Knicks, the Pacers headed back to New York with the series tied and poised to take a 3-2 lead and get their first win in New York.

This did not end up happening, to say the least.

In almost an exact replica of Game 4 but with the roles reversed, New York dominated Indiana, almost from start to finish. Despite the Pacers taking an early six-point lead in the first quarter, New York quickly took control and picked Indiana apart for the rest of the game, doing to the Pacers what they did to the Knicks in the previous game.

Long story short, it was a pitiful performance from basically every Pacer on the floor, except for perhaps Myles Turner, and even he left something to be desired on the boards.

Speaking of boards, this is where the game was essentially lost. The Knicks are known as a ferocious offensive-rebounding team, leading the playoffs in offensive rebounds by a wide margin and outrebounding the Pacers by a wider margin this series.

Despite this, New York opted to go small in Game 5, starting Deuce McBride in place of Isaiah Hartenstein and moving 6-foot-4 Josh Hart to power forward alongside Isaiah Hartenstein. Typically, a small-ball lineup results in fewer rebounds and a faster pace, which would help the Pacers in theory, as they could opt to take advantage of New York's misses and grab some rebounds for themselves.

Unfortunately, this turned out to be anything but the truth. Despite the Knicks going small, the Pacers still lost the offensive rebound battle in embarrassing fashion. In the end. New York grabbed 20 offensive rebounds compared to just five for Indiana.

Additionally, Isaiah Hartenstein himself managed to grab 12 rebounds, setting a new playoff Knicks franchise record for offensive rebounds in a game and becoming just the ninth player in NBA history to record that many offensive rebounds in a playoff game.

On the flip side, no Pacer recorded more than eight rebounds in Game 5, with Myles Turner only grabbing five and at times looking afraid to rebound the ball. This outright lack of hustle exhibited by the Pacers perhaps surprised the Knicks as well, who certainly did not expect to dominate the rebounding matchup in a game in which they trotted out a small-ball lineup. These unforced errors all added up to a brutal 91-121 loss for Indiana.

The Pacers are now in a position they have not experienced in these playoffs. Down 2-3 with their backs against the wall, Indiana has one more shot to keep the series alive on Friday. If the Pacers lose Game 6, they are officially eliminated from the playoffs, and they have nobody to blame but themselves. The Pacers should come out playing like a team that is out to prove something and completely take over, maintaining their perfect home record and extending the series to seven games.


This will most likely not happen if the rebounding does not improve. If the Pacers do not work on their hustle on the boards, the Knicks will not only give them their first home loss of the playoffs, but their fourth and final loss of the series.