OG Anunoby and Mitchell Robinson will stumble the Pacers offense

There is a lot to be said about Anunoby and his impact on the Knicks. They are definitely better after adding it. Including the playoffs, New York is 24-5 since adding Anunoby. And Anunoby was +353 in 23 regular season games. He has shown incredible defensive versatility since he joined the Knicks; However, he showed a new level of offensive aggression in the first-round matchup with the 76ers.

Indiana doesn’t really know what they have to do with Anunoby. But there is someone else who has been missing in each of the Knicks-Pacers matchups who can have an equally significant impact on the game, Mitchell Robinson.

Robinson was playing at a borderline All-Star level before injuring his ankle in December. He led the league in offensive rebounds (by a lot), putting up 6.2 points and 10.3 total rebounds per game, career highs. Then he lost three and a half months due to ankle surgery.

Since he returned, and especially in the first round matchup against the 76ers, Robinson has looked like an absolute monster. Although he only played about 20 minutes a game and missed an entire game due to an ankle injury, Robinson was tied (with Josh Hart) for the NBA lead in offensive rebounds in the first round, grabbing 22 overall . He also collected seven blocks.

There are also the intangibles. Like his willingness to accept a reserve role when he was previously a starter for the team. And his willingness to do the dirty work, like fighting the floor for rebounds and clashing with the bigger Joel Embiid. Despite recently returning from a rather long absence, Robinson has had more success than any other Knick in slowing down Embiid.

To be fair, Indiana has played at the second-fastest pace in the NBA this season, while New York has played at the slowest pace in the league. So it would have been difficult for the Knicks to keep up, even if they were fully healthy. But I’m not. And losing Bojan Bogdanovic to an ankle injury that required surgery in the first round hurts even more given that the Knicks are currently down to a seven-man rotation.

However, the Pacers will struggle to score against the stout Knicks defense. This will end up looking a lot like the Knicks-76ers matchup, at least in terms of scoring. New York will hold the Pacers below their scoring average and that will determine much of their success.

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