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Rick Carlisle and Pacers’ ‘Cheap’ Strategy Exposed Against Knicks, Raise Red Flags for Jalen Brunson & Co

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The Indiana Pacers ravaged the New York Knicks to defend the Gainbridge Fieldhouse for the second consecutive game successfully. The home team swallowed the gritty Knicks, blowing them out 121-89. Physicality and intensity were present in ample tonight. The Pacers’ brutal defense on Knicks’ marksman Jalen Brunson limited the Big Apple’s offensive options.

After going up 2-0, New York hasn’t had the luckiest interaction with their fortune. Before Game 3, they got news of OG Anunoby being sidelined with a hamstring injury. Two games ago they lost Mitchell Robinson for the entire playoffs with a stress injury in his right ankle. They became the latest to enter the hefty jar of injuries New York is carrying.

However, the biggest reason the Pacers won is their diabolical pressure on both sides of the court. As the fastest and the most potent offense in the NBA, they rattled the Knicks with audacious shot-making from the very beginning. Tyrese Haliburton, despite playing through a back injury set the initial tone for Indiana.

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When discussing the series during the Hoops Collective podcast, Brian Windhorst and Tim MacMahon also felt the Pacers are playing two games simultaneously. One with the Knicks and the other with the referees.

Indiana Pacers are testing the referees

Windhorst and his podcast guest were in awe of the Pacers’ bounce back into the series against the Knicks. After marginally losing both games on the road, they enforced their authority within their own walls. Referring to Game 4 in particular, the duo was thoroughly fascinated with the Pacers’ pressure-heavy game plan to succumb the Knicks. However, they also stated how they are challenging the officials during the play.

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“They are also applying pressure to the referees because Nesmith is playing extremely physical with Brunson, and they’re like ‘You can’t call every foul’”, Windhorst claims.  MacMahon compared their strategy to that of Seattle Sehwaks’ Legion of Boom who played ruthless defense during their peaks in the 2010s.

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Prior to their home games, the Pacers were dissatisfied with the way the game was called in New York. After the loss in Game 2, Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle ripped into the referees for missing blatant calls. The NBA fined him $35,000 for his comments, a sum Windhorst felt was a “cheap” escape.

USA Today via Reuters

In return, the Indiana Pacers got just what they wanted as per MacMahon. Over the last two games, the physicality in the contest has dramatically increased. Nesmith has tailed Jalen Brunson from the time he brings the ball up. His tenacious efforts have managed to quiet down a ‘hot’ Brunson. In those games, he only scored 26 and 18 points.

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Additionally, with the Knicks being over-exhausted because of their long injury list, Indiana has been unforgiving. The Knicks have failed to match the pace Indiana plays with. They have also struggled to slow the game down alluding to their poor shooting in both the road games. Now, the series stands all level, with the edge slightly in favor of Indiana. If the nature of the series is maintained, do you think New York has a chance to win? Let us know your views in the comments below.

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