Report: Knicks Head Coach Tom Thibodeau blame officiating  for embarrassing Game 6 loss to Pacers

The New York Knicks were on the cusp of making it to the Eastern Conference Finals for just the second time in the 21st century after they took a dominant Game 5 win in front of an ever-raucous Madison Square Garden crowd. They have kept on fighting, with Jalen Brunson playing a starring role, even though injuries have ravaged their depth. However, the Indiana Pacers’ home court has been a fortress thus far in the 2024 NBA playoffs. In Game 6, the Pacers promptly protected their home ground by taking a dominant 116-103 victory to force a seventh and final game.

With the series going back to Madison Square Garden, there remains plenty of reasons for the Knicks to be optimistic about booking a trip to the ECF to face the Boston Celtics. But they will have to clean up their game for what will be their most pivotal contest of the 2023-24 season.

The Pacers adjusted well as they shored up a few of their weaknesses that showed up in Game 5. The Knicks will have to do the same. Again, it’s important to note that one player alone cannot lose the game for the team, especially when the team lost in blowout fashion. But these are the parts of the game that the Knicks can do better in for Game 7, with some players playing a central role in making sure that they don’t fall short in a similar manner.

One of the hallmarks of a Tom Thibodeau-coached team is that they outwork their opponents night-in, night-out. (This is only true for teams that have his full buy-in, which he has with the 2023-24 Knicks.) His teams have punched above their weight class more often than not because of this.

Perhaps the best example of this, outside of the 2024 Knicks, is when Thibodeau coached the 2013 Chicago Bulls to the best of his abilities, even taking a game off of the eventual champion Miami Heat in the second round of the playoffs. That was a team that was missing Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, with the latter sustaining life-threatening complications from a spinal tap gone horribly wrong.

Nonetheless, the 2024 Knicks have stayed alive until this point because they have made it a point to outhustle their opponents, making it seem as though their opponents were playing against 10 men rather than just five. This was one of the Knicks’ main win conditions in their 121-91 beatdown of Indiana in Game 5. They demolished the Pacers on the glass; they hauled in 20 more rebounds than the Pacers did, while grabbing 20 offensive boards compared to just five for Indiana.

As a result, the Knicks took 29 more shots than the Pacers did in Game 5, and it’s always difficult to lose a game when the team wins the possession battle unless they cannot buy a bucket.

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