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Knicks Keys to Winning Game 7 against the Indiana Pacers

Jalen Brunson and Miles McBride are key pieces in the Knicks winning Game 7.

Game 7. Arguably the two most hyped-up words in American sports. After fighting tooth and nail for six games across different arenas, the series comes down to a winner-takes-all match. This is where legends are made, and plays are immortalized for their act in this spectacle. From Kawhi Leonard‘s bounce shot to secure the Raptors spot in the Eastern Conference Finals to Kyrie Irving‘s go-ahead 3 to seal the first ever 3-1 comeback in the NBA finals, Game 7’s hold a special place in a fan’s heart.

With all that said, there is quite a bit the Knicks must do to beat the Pacers at the Garden and make their first-ever conference finals appearance this millennium. So, How do the Knicks beat the Pacers at the Garden?

Knicks Keys to Winning Game 7 against the Indiana Pacers

Heavy Minutes for Burks and Achiuwa

The Knicks cannot rule out their four-guard lineup of Jalen Brunson, Miles McBride, Donte DiVincenzo, and Josh Hart against these Pacers. In Friday’s game, this group had a -16.9 net rating in the 18 minutes they shared. The Pacers had 8 offensive boards in the 18 minutes this lineup played together on Friday. Throughout this series, the lineup has been a net negative. The Pacers’ size bothers this lineup on both ends of the floor, which was a key component of Friday’s loss. Aaron Nesmith, Pascal Siakam, Tyrese Haliburton, and Myles Turner were all taller than the Knicks’ starting lineup barring Isaiah Hartenstein.

For the Knicks to win Game 7, Alec Burks and Precious Achiuwa must log 30+ minutes each. Achiuwa has been a terrific defender this series, and his size allows him to guard the interior well. Furthermore, it appears Og Anunoby will be playing in Game 7 which gives the Knicks another wing defender to throw at the Pacers. Anunoby’s impact on the Knicks cannot be understated, and his defense of Siakam will be a key component. Burks on the other hand, has been awesome for the Knicks this series. Burks has given the Knicks instant offense across the bench despite having not played for a month. In the 5 games he has played, he’s averaging 12.3 points on 43.5% shooting from 3. The Knicks will need him to play well to win today.

Interior Defense

The Pacers shot 62% from within 20 feet of the basket on Friday night. They had numerous possessions where Siakam or TJ McConnell would be wide-open in the mid-range and score an easy bucket. Even worse, the lack of size allowed multiple Pacers to stand near the basket and catch an easy pass while cutting. The Knicks seemed lazy with their rotations, and the lack of communication hurt them hard. Hartenstein had too much on his plate, and the injury to Hart meant he was not as effective on the glass.

Hart’s injury complicates the Knicks’ plans, but as of now, he will attempt to play. Regardless it forces Thibs to play Achiuwa more. Achiuwa and Hartenstein together will be a force to reckon with on the boards, and they will feed off each other on defense. The Knicks need Achiuwa to have a big game to win Game 7 and move on to the Eastern Conference Finals.

All-Around Offense

As a Knicks fan, I love Jalen Brunson. However, in Game 6, there were many stretches in the first half when it seemed like he was trying to force a basket. He shot just 2-13 from the field in the first half, and many of them were hard shots over outstretched defenders. For the Knicks to win Game 7, Brunson has to trust his teammates more when they’re on heaters. Mcbride shot 66.7% from the field in Game 6. He had 20 points but only took 12 shots. DiVincenzo and McBride had 30 points on a combined 14 shots. When the shots are falling, let them take it. Brunson could have kicked it out to them at multiple points, but he seemed like he was desperate to score.

The Pacers know his value to the Knicks and have sent double and even triple-teams at him throughout the series. In Game 7, I think Brunson should pass it out of those clogged lanes because multiple defenders on him mean someone is open. As his surrounding cast starts to make buckets, the driving lanes will open up. For them to win Game 7, Brunson has to make the right play instead of forcing the issue. He is too talented a player not to score, but letting others score around him will make it easier for him to get going.

The Knicks have a shot of going to their first-ever Conference Finals since 2000 lead by Patrick Ewing and many of the teammates from the iconic ’90s Knicks’ teams. To do so, the Knicks have to get through the same foes those teams ran into.

Final Prediction: Knicks by 10.





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