Indiana Pacers crush New York Knicks in Game 7 to advance to Eastern Conference Finals

The Pacers were in New York on Sunday for Game 7
May 19, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) shoots a three against the New York Knicks.
May 19, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) shoots a three against the New York Knicks. / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK — The Indiana Pacers were in Madison Square Garden on Sunday for their first Game 7 since 2018. It was a massive outing for the franchise — a win would put them in the Eastern Conference Finals against Boston while a loss would send them home and end their season.

It was as big as a game can be. The Pacers entered the day winners of three of the last four games in the series, but the home team won all of the first six outings in the best-of-seven set. Something was going to give, and the New York Knicks home crowd was hopeful that the Knicks newfound health would carry them to a win.

To kick off the action, Jalen Brunson hit a tough mid-range shot for the hosts. But Pascal Siakam quickly answered for the Pacers to tie things up, and the game was off and running. Stars were going to define this game, and they did so on the first two possessions.

OG Anunoby was warm for New York early. He scored twice for the Knicks in their first few trips down the floor, but the Pacers had answers every time. Indiana's offense was humming early, and they led 11-7 after four minutes of play.

Despite making shots, Anunoby wasn't moving well, and the visitors were having success attacking him. It helped the Pacers race ahead to a 16-10 lead, and the Knicks needed a timeout at that moment. They couldn't get enough stops to keep up with Indiana.

Defense was not a strength for either team in the first few minutes. It was 23-20 after about seven minutes of action as both rosters were able to generate just about whatever shot they wanted early. Around this time, there was a scuffle that led to technical fouls for both Donte DiVincenzo and Siakam.

Tyrese Haliburton got going in the ensuing stretch. He was hitting shot after shot to keep Indiana ahead, and the Pacers offense was humming. They led by 12 with 2:03 to go and Haliburton was up to 11 points.

He didn't slow down and even exchanged words with a fan in the front row as he kept drilling threes. The Pacers offense was terrific in the first quarter, and they led 39-26 after one period. Indiana was 16/21 from the field at the time, and Haliburton (14 points) and Siakam (11) were both in double figures already.

To kick off the second frame, the Pacers continued to dominate. It wasn't even a fair fight. Indiana's bench was scoring on almost every possession, and New York couldn't do anything about it. Madison Square Garden had no energy as the fans sat in a stunned silence.

The Pacers reached 20/25 from the field as they took a 20 point lead, then 22. The fans couldn't believe it, and a few boos rained down on the court. The Knicks needed answers. They were getting crushed.

New York did hit a bit of a stride with a 10-2 run in the next few minutes, but the Pacers scored a quick five points to bounce right back and keep their lead at 19. If it weren't for an impressive run of scoring from Alec Burks, the Pacers would have been up by much more.

Indiana was not deterred by Burks' hot start and kept scoring with ease. Amazingly, they were struggling with layups more than jump shots. The Pacers were shooting 75% from the field with just over two minutes left in the first half as they led 66-47.

Their lead was 70-55 after two periods. Indiana shot 76.3% from the field in the first half, which helped them keep the Knicks away even with New York dominating the battle at the foul line and the turnover battle. Haliburton and Siakam had 31 points combined at the break.

The second half opened with impressive energy in the building, and the Pacers couldn't score for the first two minutes of action. New York, meanwhile, scored twice and cut the edge down to 11. That forced the Pacers to take a timeout.

Out of the stoppage, the Knicks kept pushing. The script had flipped from the first half — the hosts were now the team that was one fire. They chopped the lead down as low as six a few times early in the third period.

The Pacers, via a few important baskets from their guards, had answers to keep their lead, but the game didn't feel decided. It felt like a Game 7, and the home team was feeding off of the energy of the crowd.

Indiana found their footing in the middle of the third period and got their lead back to 12. Their defense was much better, getting a few steals in a row and creating transition opportunities. It forced New York to regroup.

Aaron Nesmith stabilized the Pacers. He was making pull-up two-point jumpers and attacking the rim when he could. All of his decisions were correct. He and T.J. McConnell ignited a run that pushed Indiana's lead to 18 at 92-74.

The Pacers never let their foot off the gas. Nesmith kept making big plays and had a key assist just before the end of the frame, and it gave his team a 101-84 lead. Despite New York hitting hard to start the period, Indiana won the third quarter 31-29. They were 12 minutes away from the Conference Finals.

The fourth quarter began with the two teams trading buckets, which was good for Indiana as they already had the lead. But just after a few points, it was announced that Brunson would miss the rest of the game with a fractured left hand. It was a huge blow for New York.

Without their offensive engine, it was tough for the Knicks to keep up. They couldn't create the shots they needed to go on a lengthy, and the Pacers kept them away for a few minutes. They went up by 20 once again with just over eight minutes left in the game.

With about six minutes to go in the game, the hosts went on a 7-0 burst to cut the Pacers edge to 13, and Indiana took a timeout. They couldn't afford any down stretches if they wanted to close out the series. Head coach Rick Carlisle wanted to talk things over with his team.

The stoppage helped keep things in order, and the Pacers subbed back in their starting five at the time. They instantly expanded their lead and sucked all the air out of Madison Square Garden. It was a huge stretch.

With three minutes to go, the Pacers led by 19. They were close to punching their ticket to the Conference Finals to play the Boston Celtics — they just needed to run out the clock and not make too many mistakes.

They did it. The final score was 130-109. Indiana punched their ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2014.

Haliburton finished with 26 points and six assists. Siakam added 20 points. They were both great. Nesmith had 19 points and Andrew Nembhard contributed 20.

Game 1 of Pacers-Celtics is on Tuesday night.


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Published
Tony East

TONY EAST

Tony East is the Publisher of AllPacers. He has previously written for Forbes Sports, the West Indianapolis Community News, WTHR, and more while hosting the Locked On Pacers podcast.