Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The fact that the Knicks took Game 1 of the East Semifinals against the Pacers is nothing short of a miracle.

Don’t get me wrong, New York was the better team and still is on paper. Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart are both playing out of their minds and get plenty of support on defense too. Brunson scored 18 points in the fourth quarter last night en route to finishing with 41 points.

Except there was one area where the Pacers wiped the floor with the Knicks: bench scoring. Indiana’s reserves scored 46 bench points to New York’s three. They used nine players, the Knicks used eight. Although, Precious Achiuwa’s four minutes of action came primarily in the first half and towards the end of the first quarter.

Mitchell Robinson and Deuce McBride, by comparison, combined for 23 minutes.

You see where we’re going with this one. Yes, coach Tom Thibodeau’s limited rotation has worked for the New York Knicks thus far. One can even argue they’re at an advantage since they’ve been playing so shorthanded for so long.

But against the Indiana Pacers, the top scoring team in the league during the regular season? A superior defense can only provide so much if it can’t keep up with an offense, let alone cover a pick-and-roll. Cue Myles Turner scoring 19 points with a pair of wide open threes.

Simply put, the Knicks’ bench not only has to play better, but see more players get more minutes. In Thibs’ defense, giving Achiuwa even limited minutes in Game 1 is a step in the right direction. His size alone means he could help in matchups against Turner and Pascal Siakam.

But more importantly, New York’s second unit needs to score. That Deuce McBride couldn’t get past the Pacers’ middling three-point defense and Alec Burks didn’t even get a sliver of minutes is a problem. Unless he’s getting destroyed in practice, Thibodeau should try him out as a wing defender and shooter again.

Moreover, what if the starters run out of gas? Yes, we have to consider that too! It’s the playoffs, where everyone is playing through some sort of injury in some capacity. Burks and Achiuwa should get minutes just to be ready to step up if they suddenly have to play more.

Either way, the Knicks can breathe a little easy and enjoy a 1-0 series lead on their day off. Lots of bench adjustments need to be made ahead of Game 2. Let’s see if Thibodeau addresses them.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.