A confused, stagnant offense that coughed up 21 turnovers in Tuesday’s Game-2 loss to the New York Knicks isn’t exactly encouraging for the Indiana Pacers. What makes it even worse is the fact that they were still in the game heading into the final quarter, with a legit shot at taking complete control of the Eastern conference semi-final match-up.
However, even with that underwhelming performance, the Pacers have virtually created a five-game series from here on out after taking the first game in Manhattan. Three of those five tilts will be at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, where they posted a 30-11 record at during the regular season.
Two of those 30 home victories were over these same Knicks. Taking care of the ball on offense is a must for the Pacers if they expect to add to that tally on Saturday.
New York’s defense simply turned up its intensity in Game 2, realizing anything short of a win would basically be a knockout blow to their chances of winning the series. They blitzed and trapped Indiana’s ball-handlers, which led to many of those turnovers. Paul George, who often has to play a point-forward role for the Pacers, was affected the most by the different look the Knicks threw at him, pitching in seven of the 21 giveaways by Indiana.
Not only did the Knicks double team ball-handlers, but they also made life difficult for both David West and Roy Hibbert, as both combined to score just 19 points. The trapping on the perimeter made it near impossible for Indiana’s guards to enter the ball into either Hibbert or West in the post. Even if they managed to, the Knicks swarmed the Pacers’ bigs with multiple defenders as soon as they caught the ball.
The Knicks caught the Pacers off guard on Tuesday. As to why exactly, is tough to explain. New York has employed this hyper-active, gambling defense all season long, relying on Tyson Chandler to clean up any perimeter mistakes by hanging around the rim. How the Pacers weren’t ready for it is anyone’s guess.
After three days of further game-planning and thinking about what went wrong in Game 2, the Pacers should be well prepared for whatever the Knicks throw at them on Saturday.
It’s now down to five games (if it gets that far) and the Pacers sit in the driver’s seat.
Brandon Curry is an NBA writer for Rant Sports. Follow Brandon on Twitter @ByBrandonCurry