This one Indiana Pacers player has completely changed series vs. Knicks

Aaron Nesmith has completely changed how the Pacers have played against the Knicks, and he's done it with his defense.
May 2, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Ben Sheppard (26) celebrates a basket
May 2, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Ben Sheppard (26) celebrates a basket / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers didn't look like they had the juice to beat a depleted Knicks game. After questionable officiating in each of the first two games, it looked like Indiana wasn't going to be able to overcome the homecourt advantage that Madison Square Garden gives.

Then Game 3 happened. The Pacers won thanks to a clutch shot by Andrew Nembhard. Then, the Pacers absolutely clobbered the Knicks in Game 4. One big change came in Game 3 and it has completely swung the momentum in this series.

In the first two games, Nembhard was the one guarding Jalen Brunson. He cooked Nembhard in each of those games. As a smaller guy, Brunson was just able to overpower him and then shoot over him. Rich Carlisle made a defensive change to put Aaron Nesmith on Brunson starting in Game 3.

Aaron Nesmith has changed the Pacers' outlook in this playoff series vs. the Knicks

Nesmith has absolutely put the clamps on Brunson. In Game 4, he was just 6-17 from the field and 0-5 from three. When Nesmith was the primary defender on Brunson in Game 3, he shot just 33%. Those percentages were obviously lower in Game 4.

What has changed is that Nesmith's length bothers Brunson more. He can't shoot over Nesmith like he can over Nembhard. That's the key to why he has been so effective at locking him up. While Brunson clearly isn't healthy, the Pacers changing this defensive assignment has been key.

The Pacers haven't needed Nemsith's offense. He had just eight points on Sunday in Game 4. They just need him to play defense and rebound. He had 12 boards in Game 4. The rest of the team can pick up the offensive slack. Firepower is not a problem.


As this series shifts back to New York, Nesmith's defense gives Indiana hope that they can win this series. They have a lot of momentum heading into Game 5. Let's see if they can keep it rolling.