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5 takeaways as Jalen Brunson fuels Game 1 comeback



Jalen Brunson step-back jumper

The semifinal series-opener between the Knicks and Pacers goes all the way down to the wire at MSG!

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NEW YORK — There have been 4 video games at Madison Sq. Backyard on this postseason, and all 4 have been inside three factors within the final two minutes of the fourth quarter. It’s the proper atmosphere for thrilling basketball, and that’s all it’s seen within the final 17 days.

The most recent occasion was the Knicks’ 121-117 victory in Sport 1 of their Japanese Convention semifinals sequence in opposition to the Pacers on Monday. These 48 minutes had been loads totally different than the Knicks’ first-round sequence in opposition to the 76ers, however in the long run, very a lot the identical.

As soon as once more, Donte DiVincenzo hit the largest shot of the night time, a 29-foot catch-and-shoot 3-pointer that gave the Knicks a 3-point lead with 39.4 seconds left. As soon as once more, Josh Hart performed all 48 minutes and grabbed some enormous offensive rebounds. And as soon as once more, Jalen Brunson scored not less than 40 factors.

Listed here are some notes, quotes, numbers and movie because the Knicks took a 1-0 sequence lead.

1. Brunson joins elite firm with fourth straight 40-point recreation

There’s not a lot left to say about Brunson at this level. He’s a relentless offensive participant with a bevy of strikes to get to the free throw line or create simply sufficient house to squeeze off his shot.

He shot 14-for-14 from the road and 14-for-26 from the sphere on Monday, totaling 43 factors in 43 1/2 minutes. That made him the fourth participant in NBA historical past with 4 straight 40-point video games within the playoffs, becoming a member of Jerry West (six straight video games), Bernard King (additionally with the Knicks) and Michael Jordan (within the 1993 Finals).

Brunson saved his finest work for the fourth quarter, when the Knicks scored an incredible 39 factors on 24 possessions (1.63 per). The 6-foot-2 level guard scored 21 of these 39, with some basic Brunson buckets down the stretch.

A stepback jumper over Andrew Nembhard to place the Knicks up 4 with lower than three minutes left:

And a turnaround in site visitors to tie the sport with 1:14 to go:

Jalen Brunson turnaround jumper

“[He’s] as elite of a one-on-one participant as there may be,” Pacers guard T.J. McConnell stated. “He’s taking part in at a extremely excessive degree, so we gotta discover methods to make it even harder on him. You’re not going to close a man like that down. You simply gotta make it actually tough.”

With the rating nonetheless tied on the subsequent possession, the Pacers did attempt to make it harder, lastly sending a double-team at one other Brunson isolation vs. Nembhard. However Aaron Nesmith’s assist wasn’t aggressive sufficient, permitting Brunson to make a simple move to DiVincenzo. Then Tyrese Haliburton was slightly too sluggish to rotate off the nook:

Donte DiVincenzo 3-pointer

The Pacers can actually clear some issues up on that finish of the ground, and that goes past their protection on Brunson.

2. Pacers play with tempo

It turned very clear early on that, in regard to the different finish of the ground, this sequence can be a stark distinction to the Knicks’ first-round sequence in opposition to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey offered their very own challenges for the Knicks. Embiid was robust to maintain off the foul line and Maxey was close to unattainable to comprise off the dribble.

However the Sixers’ offense was quite deliberate and the ball by no means moved as rapidly because it does when the Pacers are attacking. Getting into this sequence, Indiana led the playoffs in each ball motion (397 passes per 24 minutes of possession) and participant motion (11.8 miles traveled per 24 minutes of possession), and that motion was on show all through Sport 1.

In keeping with Synergy monitoring, the Pacers scored 28 factors in transition, greater than the Sixers (who averaged 18.3) had in any of their six video games in opposition to New York.

Early within the third quarter following a Knicks bucket, Haliburton threw a protracted move forward that, after three extra passes, was a wide-open nook 3 for Pascal Siakam. Earlier within the recreation, they received one other wide-open 3 (that missed) after a made free throw.

Tempo isn’t nearly how rapidly a staff goes from one finish of the ground to the opposite. It’s additionally about how fast its actions are in its half-court offense. The ball doesn’t follow this staff and half-court tempo will proceed to be a problem for a Knicks protection that hasn’t been fairly pretty much as good within the playoffs because it was within the common season.

3. Possession

This sequence could come all the way down to retaining possession of the basketball.

The Knicks do this by crashing the glass. By Monday, they’ve retained 36.7% of obtainable offensive rebounds, what can be the most effective mark for any staff that’s performed multiple playoff sequence since Tom Thibodeau’s 2010-11 Bulls.

The Pacers did an awesome job on the glass within the first half of Sport 1, holding New York to simply two offensive rebounds and three second-chance factors. However they couldn’t preserve a relentless opponent down all night time, and the Knicks turned six offensive boards (plus loose-ball fouls and rebounds that went out of bounds) into 13 second-chance factors within the second half.

Hart had probably the most spectacular board of the night time, coming from the left nook to grab the ball away from Siakam with 5 minutes left. Siakam fouled him and Hart registered a type of 16 second-chance factors on the line:

Josh Hart offensive rebound

The Pacers, in the meantime, retain possession by not turning the ball over. Within the first spherical in opposition to Milwaukee, they’d the very best help/turnover ratio (3.07) for any staff in any sequence in not less than 30 years.

By three quarters of Sport 1, they’d a ratio of 8.33 (25/3). However then they dedicated extra turnovers within the fourth quarter (5) than they’d by way of the primary three, with probably the most painful being an unlawful display screen by Myles Turner with Indiana down one and fewer than 15 seconds left.

4. T.J. McConnell, offensive pressure

It’s doable that McConnell wouldn’t be within the league if it weren’t for the Sixers’ “Course of,” the place good gamers had been traded out of Philadelphia for future belongings and fringe gamers got an opportunity to play for one of many worst groups in NBA historical past. McConnell, undrafted in 2015, was a type of fringe gamers.

However he earned his method into being a rotation common because the Sixers improved over time, and he’s been the identical for the Pacers for the previous 5 seasons. Nonetheless, he was by no means a lot of a scorer … till now.

McConnell averaged 7.1 factors (11.6 per 36 minutes) by way of his first eight seasons. This season, these averages had been career-high marks of 10.2 per recreation and 20.3 per 36, together with 13.8 and 25.2 after the All-Star break.

In Sport 1, McConnell was possibly the hardest particular person for the Knicks to protect. He pushed the ball in transition and aggressively seemed to attain:

T.J. McConnell drive

McConnell completed with 18 factors (his third most in 29 profession playoff video games) with a plus-9 in 22 minutes. However he wasn’t on the ground down the stretch, when the sport received away from the Pacers.

5. Each shot, each gamble, each foul counts

The Pacers had the ball, down only one level, with lower than 15 seconds to go. And take into account the next:

1. The Pacers had seemingly closed the primary half on a 9-0 run, just for Isaiah Hartenstein to sink a heave from past the mid-court line on the buzzer.

“We had nothing going for us,” Thibodeau stated. “That gave us slightly hope.”

2. The Knicks received two free factors within the fourth quarter on away-from-the-play fouls, the place the Pacers dedicated a foul earlier than the ball was inbounded. The primary was the results of an awesome faux by DiVincenzo, and the second allowed New York to go up 4 within the closing seconds and stop Indiana from having an opportunity to tie. Basically, that was the worst factor that the Pacers might have executed in that state of affairs.

3. However it wasn’t their solely unhealthy resolution of the fourth quarter. “We had one play the place one among our guys took a wild run to attempt to gamble and steal the ball,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle stated, “and it was a four-point play for them.”

That was Nesmith, who left Hart in an effort to steal the ball from Hartenstein. He didn’t get there, Hart received a lane to the basket, scored, drew a foul, missed the following free throw, rebounded his personal miss and put it again to get the Knicks inside one with rather less than six minutes left.

Aaron Nesmith gamble, Josh Hart layup

4. Simply earlier than DiVincenzo’s go forward 3-pointer, Nesmith was referred to as for a kicked-ball violation when the ball hit his hand, not his foot. The Pacers would have had the unfastened ball, however the name was made, kicked balls can’t be reviewed, the Knicks stored possession they usually took the lead on the following play.

“It’s not simply the final minute or two,” Carlisle stated in regards to the significance of each possession. “It’s the entire recreation, the entire fourth quarter. It is a nice expertise for our guys. It comes at a value. It’s no enjoyable. However we’re going to need to be taught some issues for Sport 2.”

Sport 2 is Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, TNT).

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John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for You may e-mail him right here, discover his archive right here and follow him on X. 

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