Pacers exposing Knicks' most significant weakness nearly cost New York the win

The Knicks' bench combined for 27 minutes.
New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers
New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

During Game 1 between the New York Knicks and Pacers, TNT repeatedly showed a graphic. It's a graphic that Knicks fans have grown used to seeing throughout the postseason because it's a recurring theme.

Last season, New York's depth was one of its strengths, but this season, that isn't the case. With Julius Randle injured, Josh Hart slid into the starting lineup alongside newcomer OG Anunoby. The Knicks traded Immanuel Quickley (and RJ Barrett) to the Raptors and lost Quentin Grimes in a trade with the Pistons. Ironically, that trade was for Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks. Bogdanovic is injured, and Burks played so poorly after the trade that he isn't in the playoff rotation.

On Monday, Deuce McBride, Mitchell Robinson, and Precious Achiuwa made up New York's second unit. Achiuwa only played in Games 3 and 4 of the Knicks' series against the Sixers, so it was a step up from Tom Thibodeau's seven-man rotation.

McBride had his first scoreless outing of the postseason, shooting 0-of-2. Robinson had two points, and Achiuwa contributed one. The Knicks bench scored three points, while the Pacers bench scored 46. Read that again. Every time an Indiana bench player scored, TNT threw the bench graphic on the screen.

Pacers bench outscores Knicks bench 46-3 in Game 1

Indiana's second unit consisted of T.J. McConnell, Ben Sheppard, Isaiah Jackson, and Obi Toppin. Sheppard and Jackson each contributed eight points, Toppin had 12, and McConnell scored 18 on 9-of-16 shooting from the field. As expected, McConnell was a pest all night. He outperformed Tyrese Haliburton, who finished with six points on two-of-six shooting.

Not only did Indiana's bench outscore New York's, but it was evident that the Knicks were exhausted. Except for Isaiah Hartenstein (who was in foul trouble), the starters played at least 42 minutes. Even though Hartenstein played 36 minutes, he played one minute less than Pascal Siakam, who played a team-high 37 minutes for the Pacers.

Hart played a game-high 48 minutes (subscription required). He never subbed out, but somehow, he powered through. It must've been the Mike and Ike's.

Thibodeau doesn't believe in load management, which has benefitted the short-handed Knicks because players like Hart are used to playing heavy minutes. Hart pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds, more than double what Indiana's leading rebounders had (six). He isn't at 100 percent, but he will still give more than 110 percent.

New York's lack of a real bench is its biggest disadvantage, but still, the Knicks found a way to win Game 1. That doesn't mean the weakness will disappear as the series goes on. If anything, it'll be more evident, especially because for the first four games, New York and Indiana will only have a day off in between each game.

Maybe Thibodeau will be forced to turn to Burks, who hasn't played a single minute in the postseason. Maybe Achiuwa will play more minutes, especially since Robinson clearly isn't close to 100 percent. Let's see how Game 2 plays out.