New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) drives on Indiana...

New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) drives on Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) in the 1st quarter in game 5 of an NBA playoff Eastern Conference Semi-final round, Tuesday May 14, 2024, in Manhattan at Madison Square Garden. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

INDIANAPOLIS — When the Knicks' season tipped off, Deuce McBride watched from the bench, never getting the call for a single moment on the court. On Friday, as the Knicks were trying to finish off the Indiana Pacers and earn a spot in the Eastern Conference finals, they were calling on McBride to handle one of the most important assignments. As he readied for interviews after the Knicks' morning shootaround, he opted to sit back on a counter, resting for the task ahead.

Inserted in the starting lineup in Game 5, McBride not only boosted the shorthanded offense but was called upon to defend the Pacers’ All-Star Tyrese Haliburton, the engine to their offense.

“I never wavered,” McBride said on Friday. “I always made sure I was mentally tough through the ups and downs of a whole season, so just wanted to stay ready. Teammates, staff, the whole organization has always kept me in their pocket, making sure I was mentally ready because it’s a long season. So guys are gonna go out so they just want to make sure I was ready.”

He was, limiting Haliburton to just 13 points and nine shots after he had averaged 29.7 points per game over the previous three games of the series. McBride hounded him all over the court, cutting off the head of the snake as the Knicks dominated in a 121-91 win. His goal was simple.

“Make it as difficult as I can,” McBride said. “Be disruptive, be aggressive, but understand that he’s a great player and he’s gonna be a lot more aggressive tonight, so being mentally ready for that. I think I’ve got to go up a level. We do as a whole team. I think if we do things the same way, we might not get the same result if you don’t go up a level.”

What is the next level?

“I think looking at film,” McBride said. “Obviously he didn’t go scoreless, and he was still impactful in a way, so my goal is for guys to go scoreless and to make as minimum of an impact on the game.”


McBride’s big-game experience comes from playing quarterback for Moeller High School in Cincinnati. A foot injury his junior season backed off some of the recruiters and he opted for basketball. Presented with the current hot-debate question about what NBA players could play in the NFL, he had an answer: Himself.

“Definitely,” he said with a smile.

Asked if Austin Rivers' estimate of 30 NBA players being able to make the switch, he said, “I think, what they do is definitely not light when it comes to just understanding play calls at that level is insane. 30 is tough, though. I don't know about 30 to be honest, I'd maybe say 10.”

Asked if his teammates might fit, he said of Julius Randle, “Maybe a little tight end. Honestly, I think Josh [Hart] could be a solid tight end.”


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