2 adjustments Knicks can make vs. Pacers to win Game 7 in 2024 NBA playoffs

INDIANAPOLIS - Isaiah Hartenstein has an easy fix for the Knicks’ offense heading into Game 7: move the ball, make life easier for Jalen Brunson.

“He was guarded by three guys most of the possessions…,” Hartenstein said late Friday night in Indianapolis. “I feel like any man playing iso against three people — he still had what, 31? It’s hard, but us as a team, we have to do a better job of moving the ball, getting him open. Maybe him coming off the ball a little more, getting easier looks like that.”

Indiana’s Aaron Nesmith followed Brunson all over the floor in the first half of Game 6. The Pacers regularly sent a second defender at Brunson and basically dared other Knicks to beat them. The strategy worked as Brunson shot 2-for-13 in the first half (0-for-6 in the second quarter) and Indiana took control early on Friday night.

“They’ve been doing a great job all series of making adjustments and it’s made me adjust as well,” Brunson said. “So, obviously I was shooting shots I normally make and I missed (in the first half). It was a mixture of … me missing shots and a mixture of them playing really well.”

Maybe Brunson and the Knicks figured something out at halftime that can help them in Game 7? Brunson had 26 points in the second half on 9-for-13 shooting (three assists, 0 turnovers). His scoring didn’t impact the bottom line (Brunson was a -5 in the second half), but both Brunson and Tom Thibodeau seemed to like the offensive process in the final two quarters.

“He’ll figure it out,” Thibodeau said after the game. “There was a physicality to the game, which is fine. We knew that would be there. And then I thought in the second half, I thought he got to everything he wanted to get to.”


Brunson’s offense is an obvious key for Game 7. The health of Josh Hart is crucial. Maybe just as important? The Knicks’ rebounding.

New York dominated the boards in a Game 5 win at home. Indiana and New York were nearly even on the offensive boards in Game 6, which is essentially a win for the Pacers. Coming into the series, the Knicks were seen as having a significant edge on the boards. Indiana’s rebounding led to extra possessions; the Pacers ended up with nine more shots than the Knicks in Game 6.

“I think you listen to them over the last couple days, that was a point of emphasis for them: attacking the glass, getting loose balls, just playing a little bit with more grit,” Donte DiVincenzo said. “And that’s exactly what they did tonight. You have to give them credit. They were coming home. They feed off the energy, the crowd, and now we look at it and that’s what we have to do on Sunday.”

DiVincenzo also believes the Knicks will make adjustments on offense to get the ball moving side-to-side more often and creating seams in the Indiana defense.

“We will have the understanding of how we won games all season. And there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll respond on Sunday,” DiVincenzo said.

“Obviously there’s little adjustments, but… it comes down to will and just who wants it more, who’s gonna compete harder for the full 48,” DiVincenzo added. “We responded well after Game 4. They responded well after Game 5. So it’s our job. It’s our duty to regroup, watch the film and just understand. And we have to play harder for a full 48.”