After two tough losses, the Knicks need to get back to their roots of high-intensity, balanced ball to regain the momentum.

After coming off a huge, disappointing blowout loss in Game 4 against the Pacers (121-89), the Knicks should be looking to make as many adjustments as they can in order to secure their third win of the series. The Pacers, having evened the series 2-2, are coming in with momentum while the Knicks are not. Even worse, they lack the bodies to change the gameplan much heading into the crucial stretch of the series.

So, let’s take a look together at the adjustments that the Knicks should make for Game 5, shall we?

There’s no ‘I’ in team

While watching this series, one thing sticks out as clear as daylight: the Pacers have constant spacing and movement. The Knicks have lacked this for most of the time in both Games 3 and 4. The Pacers have a talent for making the most out of their screens, hitting shooters effortlessly time and time again. They’re doing what every coach desires: they’re playing team ball.

On the other hand, the Knicks have relied a lot on iso ball, and a little ball movement would go a long way. Although Jalen Brunson undeniably has a knack for finishing games with 30 or 40 points, getting the ball moving in the half-court would not only allow for other players to help the Knicks’ offense but also take a lot of the pressure off JB, something that I’m sure he would benefit from.

The entire Knicks team needs to work together to score more efficiently. Game 4 was woeful for the Knicks, who shot 33.7% from the field and a stinging 18.9% from three. The Pacers looked a whole lot better, they shot 56.8% from the field and 45.2% from three. However, it’s hard to ignore the absence of OG and how much he has impacted the Knicks’ season. The Knicks are 26-5 with OG and without OG, they’re 13-16 this season. Until he’s back, the Knicks have to do better scoring-wise by sharing the ball more and trying to get more high-quality shots.

Defending the paint, guarding the three-ball, and rebounding

When it comes to defense, the Knicks have struggled to guard the Pacers on multiple fronts. It also doesn’t help that the Knicks currently lack depth in size and defensive ability due to their injured players, making it all the more difficult to secure rebounds off the glass, a key part of their game plan.

The Pacers have scored 240 points in the paint this series compared to the Knicks’ 200 points. A 40-point differential over four games says a lot. Again, Knicks fans cannot help but think about how different the team would look if they had the presence of size advantage such as Mitchell Robinson, Julius Randle, and OG. However, we have to look forward to what we can use right now, and right now Isaiah Hartenstein and Precious Achiuwa are at the front line for the Knicks. iHart has been averaging 7.8 rebounds and Achiuwa 4.5 rebounds so far in this series. To put this into perspective, Josh Hart has averaged more rebounds than the Knicks’ bigs at 12.3 rebounds against Indiana.

Both big men will need to step it up in Game 5, especially Achiuwa who needs to be a beast on the boards to not be a liability out there.

Bringing back my earlier note of the Pacers’ fluid ball movement, the Knicks have allowed the Pacers to knock down triples without any trouble. Game 4 was a clear indication that almost the entire Knicks team was running out of gas. This clearly has affected their ability to defend effectively as well as their stamina to catch up to any switches after screens. With just enough rest, the Knicks can be back up to speed in order to guard the Pacers’ three-ball faster and better.

Making the most out of free throws

The Knicks ranked 16th in free throws during the regular season but they’ve been prolific this series, sinking 78 free throws so far against the Pacers’ 47 shots. Despite this, the Knicks have not been able to capitalize on their gimmes. They’ve shown a tendency down the stretch, when it’s a tight-knit game, to miss their most crucial free throws. With so many disadvantages to overcome, the Knicks need to make them count when they’re most needed, especially when it could close out the game.

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