The Pacers need to give more effort if they want to extend the series

The Pacers showed an embarrassing lack of effort in Game 5, which they need to improve on if they want to make it to Game 7.
May 14, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) draws a charge on
May 14, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) draws a charge on / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers were thoroughly embarrassed in Game 5, and their effort on the floor showed it.

Over the 2023-24 Indiana Pacers' season, they have been criticized by some for being 'soft' and playing down to their competition. This is exactly what happened on Tuesday. On the road against a depleted New York Knicks team that they dominated only two days prior in Indiana, the Pacers were thoroughly embarrassed in a 91-121 loss.

Looking into the game shows an Indiana Pacers team that seemingly did not want to compete after the first five or so minutes of the game. All through the night, the Pacers seemingly made it their mission to give as little effort as possible, not boxing out or crashing the boards, and not running any set plays for Tyrese Haliburton, their best player.

Some of this had to do with New York changing up their approach and putting Deuce McBride in the starting lineup to give Haliburton more fits on defense, but this did not warrant the Pacers completely straying away from their game plan that worked so well in the last two games.

Additionally, Indiana just played lazily all game. Instead of putting the much-larger Aaron Nesmith on Jalen Brunson, which worked like a charm in Games 3 and 4, Indiana opted to try Andrew Nembhard on Brunson, which did not work so well in Games 1 and 2. Sure enough, Brunson scored 44 points and was only slowed down in the second half when Rick Carlisle made that adjustment, which by that time was too little, too late.

Adding on to the sentiment of the Pacers playing lazily are the stats that prove it. Indiana had 18 turnovers on the night after being very careful with the ball in the first four games. Even worse, most of these turnovers were unforced, usually coming off a bad pass or a lost dribble. These types of unforced errors should not fly in the regular season, let alone the playoffs, but the Pacers were committing them in their biggest game in a decade.

Most importantly, Indiana did not show up in the rebounding battle. With New York opting to go small in Game 5, starting McBride in place of Precious Achiuwa and starting 6-foot-4 Josh Hart at power forward, they were most likely expecting to grab fewer rebounds than usual, which is one of the disadvantages of small ball.

Somehow, this drop in size led to an increase in rebounds for the Knicks, as Isaiah Hartenstein himself had 12 offensive rebounds, and the Knicks as a team grabbed 20. For comparison, the Pacers grabbed five offensive rebounds in total and grabbed 24 defensive rebounds, about as much as the Knicks had offensive rebounds.

The Pacers have had issues with rebounding all season, but Game 5 was perhaps the worst night yet, as not only did they not deliver results, but they failed to even show any effort in the first place.


The Pacers have their backs against the walls in Game 6. Back in Indiana, where they hold a clean 5-0 playoff record this year, there is no excuse for the Pacers to lose the series this early. Indiana cannot afford two awful displays of effort in a row, and with the once-exhausted Knicks coming off two full days of rest, the Pacers should be prepared to turn this game into a track meet and show maximum effort to avoid going down in front of their home crowd.