Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, Donte DiVincenzo push Knicks to Game 1 win over Pacers

The Knicks defeated the Indiana Pacers 121-117 in Game 1 of their second round matchup on Monday night at Madison Square Garden.

Here are some takeaways...

- Two of the Knicks' Villanova trio, Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart, were spectacular during the first round series against the Philadelphia 76ers and they picked up right where they left off in this one. The workhorse dynamic duo helped the Knicks jump out to an early lead by contributing on 23 of the team's 27 points in the first quarter.

- After going with a six-man rotation for the majority of the opening series, Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau was forced to reach deep into his bench early in this one as Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein picked up early fouls. Precious Achiuwa, who appeared in just two games against Philly, checked into the game late in the first quarter to quickly expand the rotation to seven.

- Led by some early scoring from T.J. McConnell and the rest of their bench, Indiana made a push to jump in front in the second, but Hart and Brunson did well to keep the Knicks in it. The two of them shot a combined 11-of-17 from the field while the rest of the team knocked down just 30 percent of their shots in the first half.

New York's bench played just a combined 13 minutes over the first two quarters and they were outscored by the Pacers' 27-1. Despite a sluggish second quarter, Hartenstein did knock down about a buzzer beater three from just in front of half-court to cut the deficit to six points heading into the halftime break.

- The Knicks came storming out of the locker room led by Hart again, as he scored or assisted on four of their baskets during a 13-7 run. Donte DiVincenzo also got going early in the third after scoring just four points in the first half, as he contributed 13 points including a fastbreak slam and a corner three. But Indiana went on a 10-0 run, which was capped off by a between-the-legs Obi Toppin slam in the closing minutes, and a Myles Turner buzzer-beater three helped them carry a five-point advantage heading into the final 12.

- Threes from Toppin and McConnell helped the Pacers push the lead up to as much as nine with Brunson on the Knicks' bench to open the fourth quarter. The All-Star point guard quickly returned after a brief rest and unsurprisingly, the Nova trio took things over, contributing 23 of New York's 26 points midway through a back-and-forth fourth.

OG Anunoby stepped up tremendously on the defensive end down the stretch, and his second steal of the final frame led to a fastbreak slam to put the Knicks in front with three minutes remaining.

After the teams traded baskets over the next few minutes, DiVincenzo drilled a massive three with 30 seconds remaining. The star small forward drew a massive offensive foul on Turner with 12 seconds remaining and New York held on for the win after knocking down their free throws.

- The Nova Knicks trio combined to score 91 of New York's 121 points led by Brunson's 43, while reeling in 22 rebounds led by Hart's 13, and dishing out 15 assists in the thrilling back-and-forth victory. Anunoby contributed 13 points of his own to go along with nine rebounds and his two big steals down the stretch.

New York's bench unit was outscored 46-3 on the night, with McBride missing his only two shots attempted across 11 minutes, which is a trend the sharp-shooting guard will have to change moving forward in what figures to be a high-scoring series.

- All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton was limited to just six points and eight assists, but Turner was a difference-maker down-low with 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field, and McConnell contributed 18 points off the bench while playing pesky defense.

MVP of the Game

As was the case all season, Brunson put the Knicks on his back when they needed him the most.

For the fourth straight playoff game, the All-Star point guard finished with 43 points on 14-of-26 shooting from the field while reeling in six rebounds and dishing six assists.


Upcoming schedule

The Knicks and Pacers return to action with Game 2 of their second round matchup on Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m. at The Garden.