May 21, 2024

Tuesday’s NBA playoff takeaways: Jalen Brunson steamrolls Pacers, Nikola Jokić puts on masterclass against Wolves

By Fred Katz, Eric Nehm, Tony Jones and Jon Krawczynski

The power at Madison Square Garden was palpable as New York Knicks followers began a “Knicks in six!” chant throughout Game 5’s closing minutes, which resulted in a 121-91 win over the Indiana Pacers to take a 3-2 collection lead.

Jalen Brunson continued his year-long dominance, a lot to the chagrin of former Knicks Stephon Marbury and John Starks sitting courtside. Brunson completed with a game-high 44 factors, seven assists and 4 rebounds on 18-of-35 capturing. It was Brunson’s fifth 40-point efficiency of those playoffs.

New York is now only one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals.

Nikola Jokić put on a masterclass within the Denver Nuggets’ 112-97 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Ball Arena, having his method with Rudy Gobert and ending with 40 factors, 13 assists and 7 rebounds within the course of. The Nuggets are up 3-2 and the Timberwolves are in jeopardy of shedding 4 straight to the defending champions.

Denver held Anthony Edwards to simply 18 factors and 9 assists on 5-of-15 capturing. The budding famous person must piece collectively one in all his finest video games of the postseason to maintain his crew’s Western Conference Finals hopes alive Thursday.

Knicks 121, Pacers 91

Series: New York leads 3-2

Game 6: Friday in Indiana

Brunson slices up Pacers defenders

For all of the speak about overextended power, about Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau operating his gamers for too many minutes, for the no-show Game 4 from New York, there was one important subject that plagued this crew: Brunson didn’t appear like himself.

Brunson couldn’t create area against Aaron Nesmith in Games 3 or 4 in Indiana, and far of the credit score went to the Pacers wing for that. But Brunson, who was nursing a foot harm he suffered at first of this collection, additionally wasn’t himself. Brunson can separate himself from anybody.

He did it through the common season against perimeter stalwarts like Herb Jones and Jrue Holiday. He ought to have been capable of do it against the Pacers. But he couldn’t. And the Knicks, in flip, didn’t appear like themselves both.

The most-important side of Game 5 was all the time Brunson’s well being. If he might transfer, if he might bust open for these artful appears he loves a lot, then the Knicks stood an opportunity — if not higher than that.

This is why.

Brunson sliced up the Pacers on Tuesday, attending to whichever spots he wished. Especially with all of the accidents to key gamers, the Knicks go as Brunson does.

And when he’s wholesome, he tends to go fairly effectively, as he confirmed as soon as once more Tuesday evening. — Fred Katz, Knicks beat author

Pacers unravel after dealing with early onslaught

After a blowout win in Game 4, the Pacers knew they had been going to get the Knicks’ finest, however that didn’t find yourself mattering Tuesday. They dealt with New York’s onslaught early and took a seven-point lead 5 minutes into Game 5, however then slowly unraveled to finish the primary quarter.

Rick Carlisle saved taking timeouts, however nothing appeared to calm his crew because it saved committing turnovers and giving up offensive rebounds. With 2:11 left within the first half, Indiana trailed by 18 factors and Carlisle had already taken 5 of his seven timeouts.

By the top of the primary half, Brunson had tallied 28 of his 44 factors, the Knicks had grabbed 12 offensive rebounds, the Pacers had dedicated 9 turnovers and New York had taken 15 extra pictures than Indiana. The Pacers had been fortunate to solely be down by 15 on the half.

Myles Turner hit three 3-pointers within the first two minutes of the third quarter to convey Indiana inside seven, however a scoreless drought of over six minutes shortly thereafter eradicated any hope the Pacers might need had of stealing Game 5.

Now, they head again to Indianapolis with their season on the road Friday. — Eric Nehm, senior NBA author

(Photo: Matthew Stockman / Getty Images)

Nuggets 112, Timberwolves 97

Series: Minnesota leads 3-2

Game 6: Thursday in Minnesota

Nuggets unlock Timberwolves in irreversible method

Game 6 of this collection will probably be Thursday evening, within the pleasant confines of the Target Center for the Timberwolves. But it actually appears like this collection is over, and the Nuggets have unlocked the Timberwolves in an irreversible method.

On paper, this collection continues to be actually shut, with Denver taking a 3-2 lead. But, the Nuggets have received three straight. Two of these had been in Minneapolis. The third was a 112-97 win on Tuesday evening in a recreation Denver dominated within the second half.

The Nuggets have seemingly discovered Edwards. And Jokić is toying with Gobert in biblical vogue.

It would take the mentally strongest crew on the planet to flip what’s taking place on this collection, and the Wolves don’t strike as that crew. The path to subsequent week’s convention finals has by no means appeared extra straight for Denver. The Nuggets have performed three consecutive video games of virtually flawless basketball.

Jokić has steadily turn into extra dominant and he capped it off Tuesday evening with a 40 level efficiency for the ages.

If nothing else, the primary two video games of this collection woke up the Nuggets. But, they’re formally again, formally right here and so they appear like a main menace to win a second consecutive NBA title. — Tony Jones, NBA author

Jokić picks aside the Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert

The four-time Defensive Player of the Year goes to must rediscover his defensive mojo if the Timberwolves are going to power a Game 7.

Jokić attacked Gobert relentlessly in Game 5, getting no matter he wished to render Minnesota’s protection null and void in a Game 5 wipeout.

The Wolves have usually resisted placing Gobert on Jokić straight up, preferring Karl-Anthony Towns to protect the MVP and Gobert to lurk off of Aaron Gordon for assist. It labored effectively in a Game 1 win in Denver, however there have been a number of prolonged stretches of the sport on Sunday wherein Gobert was the one guarding Jokić, and it didn’t go effectively.

Gobert had loads of events had been he put up nice contests that no different different participant on the planet in addition to Jokić might convert. But there have been additionally far too many occasions when Jokić was capable of make it look method too simple against the chief of Minnesota’s protection. He appeared to relish each probability he had going at Gobert, making fast, decisive strikes to the basket for simple buckets that prevented the Wolves from mounting any sustained runs.

Gobert missed Game 2 for the beginning of his son, which additionally occurred to be Minnesota’s finest defensive recreation of the collection. They are 0-3 since he returned, the primary time all season the Wolves have misplaced three straight video games.

This actually was not all on Gobert. Mike Conley missed the sport with Achilles soreness, Edwards was simply 5-for-15 and Naz Reid struggled with foul hassle and turnovers.

But this crew’s identification all season lengthy has been protection, and Gobert is the top of the snake. Jokić dominates each participant that’s put in entrance of him, however it shouldn’t be as simple because it was for Jokić. If it’s Thursday in Minneapolis, this season will probably be over for the Timberwolves. — Jon Krawczynski, Timberwolves beat author

Wednesday’s schedule:

Required studying

(Photo: Sarah Stier / Getty Images)