Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks were dealt an awful blow on Tuesday night, less than 24 hours before Wednesday’s Game 2 matchup with the Indiana Pacers.

Per several sources, center Mitchell Robinson has a “stress reaction” in his ankle and will be re-evaluated in six to eight weeks. It is the same ankle that cost Robinson months of the season following surgery.

Robinson managed just 12 minutes in New York’s win over Indiana in Game 1 of the East Semifinals. Precious Achiuwa will be the backup center in his presence.

For the already shorthanded Knicks, this is a rough scenario. Not a backbreaker, but we discussed in the series preview how the Pacers have the size advantage. Isaiah Hartenstein can only do so much by himself, so can Achiuwa match Robinson’s toughness on defense? Particularly if Hartenstein gets into foul trouble.

Achiuwa, a former Memphis Tiger and McDonald’s All-American, was acquired from the Raptors with OG Anunoby in December. He posted a career best 7.2 rebounds per game in 49 games (18 starts) with the Knicks. Additionally, Achiuwa has played the best defense of his career since donning a Knicks uniform. His defensive box plus/minus (DBPM) since the trade is a career-best 0.5.

But the playoffs are a different animal and everyone knows it. Achiuwa will be tasked with slowing down Myles Turner, the Pacers’ floor-spacing center. Turner drained a pair of wide open threes in Game 1 and finished with a team-leading 23 points. Isaiah Jackson also proved a tough man to guard.

This is who the Knicks must slow down without Mitchell Robinson and his bullying defense. The man made Joel Embiid’s life so miserable in Round 1 to the point where Embiid literally re-injured the bum ankle for Robinson. He had already posted a 1.6 DBPM for the playoffs this year, which means the Knicks were almost two points better on defense with him on the floor.

Precious Achiuwa must now match that immediately. He has the potential, having had seven rebounds and four blocks filling in for Robinson in Game 4 versus Philly. But even then, he’s played 34 playoff minutes in three playoff games thus far.

Tom Thibodeau and Jalen Brunson are strong enough leaders at the top that the Knicks may continue to punch above their weight. But against fast-paced Indiana and two athletic big men in Siakam and Turner, New York has their work cut out for 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.