The decimation of the Knicks bench could give the Pacers the opening they need

The Pacers have the highest-scoring bench in the league. The Knicks have no bench to speak of. That could give Indiana the opening they need.
Dec 30, 2023; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers guard T.J. McConnell (9) dribbles the ball
Dec 30, 2023; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers guard T.J. McConnell (9) dribbles the ball / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers are about to take on the New York Knicks in round two of the NBA Playoffs. Despite Indiana taking down the Bucks, no one is giving them much of a chance to win this series. It seems that pundits favor the Knicks starters over what the Pacers do.

New York is coming off a bruising series with the 76ers. It was six games of sledgehammer basketball. The Knicks' starters play a ton of minutes every night. Quite frankly, they have no bench to speak of. That only became worse when Bojan Bogdanovic had season-ending surgery.

Indiana is the exact opposite team. They play a ton of guys from their bench. Rick Carlisle prefers to play nine or ten guys if he can. The Pacers had the highest-scoring bench in the league in the regular season. That bench could give them the opening they need to win the series.

The Pacers' bench is the strength of this well-balanced team

No team in the playoffs has more balance than the Pacers. They have seven guys averaging over nine points per game in the postseason. They unlocked a new lineup combination with Pascal Siakam playing small-ball five and putting Obi Toppin as the four with him. You're going to see more of that in this series.

On New York's side, they really only play seven guys. Four of their five starters will play 43+ minutes. That's a lot of minutes to play against a team that likes to run as much as the Pacers do. Transition buckets are how the Pacers get their points. They're going to try to run the Knicks ragged.

T.J. McConnell and Obi Toppin are the two key components of the bench. Toppin was a 40% three-point shooter in the regular season. He shot just 28% from deep in the first round. McConnell struggled until Game 6. Both of those players need to be on their A-game throughout this series.


If the Pacers can dictate the pace of the game and keep running, they should be able to win this series. If they let the Knicks slow it down too much, they might be in trouble.