3 adjustments Knicks must make against Pacers for Game 2 and beyond

The Knicks escaped with another close Game 1 victory Monday night, edging out the Indiana Pacers, 122-117, behind a 39-30 fourth quarter and fifth consecutive masterclass from Jalen Brunson.

Though they won, there were definitely weak spots New York needs to improve on going into Game 2 and beyond.

Here are three adjustments the Knicks could look to make...

Limit second opportunities 

Despite the Knicks being an elite defensive rebounding team this season and the Pacers being a middling offensive rebounding team, the latter managed to secure seven offensive rebounds in Game 1, keeping them in the action all night.

While the Knicks generally did well in the rebounding battle, giving up easy second-chance opportunities to an explosive offense can’t be allowed going forward.

A few offensive rebounds went to Indy’s centers on plays New York’s five had to help on a drive or pick-and-roll, resulting in a Kobe assist -- others on just poor effort plays. Josh Hart and the other supporting Knicks need to be alert on their help rebounding and box out often, as Indiana’s bigs and wings are a bit more vertical than Philadelphia’s.

Pascal Siakam managed to convert a couple into buckets, both times beating OG Anunoby into position. If that’s the matchup the Knicks are sticking with, Anunoby needs to be ready to put a body on Siakam whenever the ball goes up.

New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) takes a shot against Indiana Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard (2) during the first quarter of game one of the second round of the 2024 NBA playoffs at Madison Square Garden.

Cut down on the turnovers

The Knicks lost the turnover battle, 14-7, nearly losing the game because of it. The Pacers scored 22 points off turnovers, way too healthy an amount for the Knicks to be comfortable with.

Most of New York’s giveaways seem like they can be avoided with some greater focus. There were a number of silly passes made, including a few by Hart and one by Brunson being caught in the air.

The most egregious came via inbounds passes -- the Knicks had three turnovers related to inbounds plays, inexcusably shoddy execution. New York should look a lot better in Game 2 if it can cut down on simple mistakes like these.

Disrupting Myles Turner

You wouldn’t think the Knicks almost lost Game 1 defensively, with Tyrese Haliburton only scoring six points and Siakam 19. However, the rest of the Pacers cast chipped in big on a lot of open attempts. And while this may reflect New York’s game plan, they still don’t want every game played into the 120s.

There are not many notes when it comes to how the Knicks guarded the Pacers stars, but their third best player, Turner, ended up leading his team with 23 points through three quarters. New York may be willing to live with that, but it shouldn’t live with some of the shots he was getting.

New York showed a few coverages on Turner pick-and-rolls, depending on the ball-handler, but slipped up enough to allow him lots of strong looks. One way they can limit those is not giving up the Brunson switch on Turner as easily.

The Knicks purposefully switched Haliburton pick-and-rolls, but other times even while playing a drop, Brunson would end up on Turner right at the rim. He’ll need to fight over screens better and his centers should lean towards Turner more, forcing non-Haliburton guards to score from mid-range or at the rim.

On most pick-and-pops, Turner actually swung free, and while he only converted 2-6 threes, the Knicks need to rotate out to him since he's one of Indiana's most reliable shooters. Those are better switching opportunities where he can’t punish a guard as easily, or the Knicks can put Anunoby on him and a center on Siakam, if they decide to get more drastic.