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Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game Five

Source: Sarah Stier / Getty

The Indiana Pacers find themselves on the brink of elimination after they faceplanted in Game 5 of their playoff series against the New York Knicks. 

Just a few days after tying the series up in a blowout win over New York, the Pacers played arguably their worst game of the postseason. The Knicks bullied them on the glass, Pacers star player Tyrese Haliburton was once again non-existent on the road, and the result was a predictable 121-91 smackdown. The series now returns to Indy, where the Pacers will play with their season on the line. Even if they win, another return trip to New York awaits. 

Needless to say, things are looking rather dire for their 2023-24 season. So if it does draw to a close come Game 6, or Game 7, what will the overall thought be on the Pacers season? Can it be considered a success, even if they fell short of the ultimate goal in frustrating fashion? 

The short answer, to me, is yes. 

The Pacers entered the 2023-24 season with playoff hopes; they succeeded in paying off those hopes. They showed tangible improvement, won 12 more games than they did the year before (and 22 more games than the year prior to that), and won a playoff series against a team in the Milwaukee Bucks that is seemingly becoming a rival.  

Are there areas to improve? Absolutely. The defense has been an issue all season, and if Indiana wants to take that next step, they must improve on that end of the floor. Rebounding also continues to be an issue that has plagued Indiana for years now, and one that has repeatedly hurt them against the Knicks. Finally, the hot-and-cold play of Haliburton, Siakam and others has been a story since the playoffs began, and if the Pacers want to advance further next year, it is an issue that they will need to work past. 

At some point, the promise of next year won’t be enough. Simply being better than last year won’t either. This city and fan base is desperate for a winner, for a championship. For now though, if this season does end against the Knicks, Pacers fans should be able to look fondly back on 2023.  

After years of mediocrity, the Pacers are ahead of schedule and finally relevant again. To me, for this year, that qualifies as a success.  

During Thursday’s edition of The Ride With JMV, John spoke to Chris Denari of Bally Sports Indiana and Alex Golden of Setting The Pace about the Pacers-Knicks series, and more! Check out those conversations down below, and tune into The Ride With JMV weekdays from 3-6pm on 93.5/107.5 The Fan! 

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