What a difference forty-eight hours can make.

On Friday, the New York Knicks led the Indiana Pacers 2-0 and looked to be cruising towards a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals. Two days later, they left the Hoosier State with the series tied at two after getting vaporized on Mother’s Day.

In front of a raucous home crowd, the Pacers raced out to a double-digit lead after just six minutes of game action. Indiana took advantage of an increasingly depleted Knick frontcourt and smashed the ball inside as 18 of their 34 first-quarter points came inside the paint.

Defensively, the home team hounded All-NBA PG Jalen Brunson, early and often, who looked far from the player who scored 43 points in game one. The former Villanova star went 0-5 in the opening 12 minutes and ended the game with a measly 18 points, his lowest output of the playoffs.

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Indiana kept the pressure on for the remainder of the first half, extending their lead to 28 points when the halftime buzzer rang. Rick Carlisle’s team detonated from behind the arc, knocking down five threes in the frame, and ended the match with a scorching 45.2% from long range. The Pacers did an excellent job pushing the tempo all afternoon, getting quickly into their offensive sets and running New York off the floor.

The Knicks never fought back.

The Eastern Conference’s #2 seed came out flat to start the second half and fell behind by 38, the largest deficit of the game, as the Pacers finished the third on an 8-1 run. New York Knicks Head Coach Tom Thibodeau waved the white flag and pulled his starters at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Six Pacers scored in double figures, and Indiana shot over 50% from the field as they dismantled the Knicks from start to finish, taking game four 121-89.

After the game, Thibodeau put the loss in perspective, stating, “This team has responded all year, so that’s what we’re expecting to do.” He expects a better effort from his squad in game five back at home, but the Knicks are frustrated.

Brunson and Pacers star Pascal Siakam exchanged words at halfcourt as the contest concluded. The body blows, extended minutes, and frenetic style of play are beginning to catch up to the boys in orange and blue. The Knicks will be ecstatic to return to Madison Square Garden, where they have lost only once all postseason, as their home fans provide the energy the team thrives off of. However, the atmosphere will be tense from the tip-off as the Knicks face their first adversity of the playoffs and the series shifts to a best of three.

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