Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Enough New York Knicks fans have seen this movie before to know what’s coming next in their playoff series with the rival Indiana Pacers.

Sunday afternoon’s Game 4 proved a forgettable one for the Knicks, who never got their offense going while the Pacers..well, out-paced them the entire game. Indiana shot 56.8% from the field and 45.2% from three in a 121-89 route. The series is tied at two games apiece after New York took the first two. Game 5 is slated for Tuesday evening at Madison Square Garden.

Now, on paper, it’s not so dire. It’s a simple two out of three series and New York holds home court advantage. And based on what we’ve seen from this tough Knicks team is that even shorthanded, they very rarely get blown out. There’s a unique intensity about them, so much that Jalen Brunson immediately downplayed his sore right foot after he shot just 6 of 17 on the game.

“I’m fine,” he remarked bluntly. “I’m fine.”

Except for one problem, and we actually opened with it: Every Knicks fan has seen this before. Want to know how? Look no further than the team’s last two playoff series against the Pacers.

The 2013 East Semifinals were practically a cruel joke, a false hope season in which Carmelo Anthony won the scoring title and the Knicks were a well-oiled machine under coach Mike Woodson. Indiana outworked the Knicks on both sides of the court as New York’s offense went cold, salvaging a Game 5 win at the Garden before the Pacers clinched at home in Game 6.

But let’s instead focus on the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals, arguably a Bizarro version of the current matchup. The top-seeded Pacers took the first two at home, No. 3 New York won the next pair at MSG, then Indiana won the next two before clinching the East in New York.

A repeat of that very occurrence, even though it’s a round early, is staring the Knicks square in the face.

In fairness to the Knicks of yore, they were pretty banged up that series as opposed to shorthanded. Patrick Ewing was old and injured. Latrell Sprewell was playing with a broken foot. Neither Allan Houston nor Larry Johnson provided consistent scoring, and there was truly no stopping hot-shooting Reggie Miller and the Pacers.

The Knicks find themselves in a much worse position over two decades later. They are both banged up and shorthanded, the worst of both worlds. Aside from Brunson’s foot, the Knicks have been without top defender OG Anunoby the last two games thanks to his latest injury, a strained hamstring. Anunoby is not expected to suit up for Game 5, and the Knicks were 13-14 while he recovered from elbow injuries in the regular season.

Game 3’s strong effort, in hindsight, was an overachievement. Game 4 was not just reality, but reality magnified tenfold. Perhaps it was the wakeup call New York Knicks fan have needed for a while, and we all need to hear this now:

This team earning the No. 2 seed in the East was nothing short of a miracle and now, in typical Tom Thibodeau fashion, the extended minutes have caught up with the Knicks.

Look, it was fun while it lasted but come on. It’s the Knicks. There just simply isn’t enough in the tank to slow down Pascal Siakam, Tyrese Haliburton, Myles Turner, and then the Pacers’ literal army of shooters. Can anything stop infamous Knicks nemesis TJ McConnell?

Essentially, the New York Knicks need to play as effectively as the Indiana Pacers did in Game 4 if they want to even sniff advancing in this series. Best case scenario, a loud Garden crowd fuels them to a win in Game 5, then Anunoby returns in Game 6 to close the deal. Maybe something similar happens with a loss, but Anunoby instead helps force Game 7, truly anyone’s series at that point.

But it’s like I’ve been saying this whole time: New York Knicks fans know exactly what’s coming. Jalen Brunson is out of gas and Donte DiVincenzo doesn’t look far behind. The Pacers will suddenly learn how to play defense and take the series, leaving the Knicks to wonder if they can run it back with everyone healthy next year.

Nobody wants to hear it, but we’re going to say it one last time.

The 2023-24 New York Knicks season is over.

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.