Knicks’ disastrous Game 4 shows worrying signs of impending doom vs. Pacers

Game 4 showed the potentially fatal flaw for the shorthanded Knicks against the Pacers.
Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game Two
Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game Two / Elsa/GettyImages

Despite the Eastern Conference Semifinals series being tied going into Game 5, the New York Knicks are showing possible signs of doom and a premature exit from the NBA Playoffs.

In the demoralizing 32-point loss to the Indiana Pacers on Sunday afternoon in Game 4, the Knicks looked both extremely fatigued and short on veterans Tom Thibodeau can trust. And in actuality, it appears as if a perfect storm is brewing to ultimately doom New York for the rest of this series.

The Pacers run a break-neck pace, which is something the Knicks have to contend with from the jump. However, Thibodeau's infamous proclivity to keep players on the floor for extended minutes while New York is already shorthanded due to injuries makes that problem worse. We saw Josh Hart play every minute of the first two games while Jalen Brunson has been at less than full strength still playing substantial minutes despite a foot injury.

It's impossible to say whether or not injuries to Brunson, OG Anunoby, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson and Bojan Bogdanović are related to their heavy minutes as part of Thibodeau's core rotation, however, it can't help. And it especially can't help in a series such as this one.

Can the Knicks survive this pace in Game 5 and beyond in the series?

There isn't a way for the Knicks to simply become less fatigued heading into Game 5 (barring a discovery not yet announced). It's still a two-day span between games, which doesn't favor New York. The off day on Monday will help and perhaps give time for Anunoby to get back on the floor. However, it's probably not enough to see Brunson's ailment fully heal, especially after playing in Game 4.

While this does sound like impending doom for the Knicks, though, the series is still not over. The fatigue could bite New York throughout the rest of the postseason but they are capable of winning 2-of-3 against the Pacers to finish this series. Indiana is young and inexperienced while Thibodeau's defensive gameplan might be enough to allow the team to scrape by.

Having said that, the lack of depth combined with Thibodeau's approach and mentality when it comes to playing time has the Knicks running out of gas. If they fail to reach the Eastern Conference Finals, that will be an easy place to lay a large portion of the blame.