The Pacers Caught Fire In Game 7 To Blow Out The Knicks In The Garden

The Knicks and Pacers met in the first of two Game 7s on Sunday afternoon in Madison Square Garden, and they got some apparent good news in the buildup to the game as it was announced OG Anunoby and Josh Hart would both play.

Anunoby hadn’t played since injuring his hamstring in Game 2, and while he came out and hit two shots in the early going, it was very clear he could not move much at all. The Knicks were struggling to handle the Pacers ball movement on defense, and he lasted just under five minutes before being ultimately replaced by Miles McBride.

Pascal Siakam taking advantage of the matchup on Anunoby early and then went at Isaiah Hartenstein once Anunoby left, scoring 11 quick points to give Indiana an early lead.

Donte DiVincenzo got off to a hot start to help keep the Knicks attached, but Jalen Brunson struggled early and Tyrese Haliburton got hot, scoring 14 points in a row to give the Pacers a 15-point lead — and getting into it with a fan seated courtside, as is tradition in a Knicks-Pacers playoff series.

The Pacers would stay red-hot in the second quarter, hitting 24 of their first 30 shots to run out to as much as a 22-point lead.

The Knicks would try to stay in the game, with Alec Burks coming off the bench to lead a push that got the lead down to 14, but the defense just could not get the requisite shots to sustain a run and really threaten the Pacers in the first half.

Indiana finished the open 24 minutes shooting 76 percent from the field and leading by 15, posting the best shooting half of any team in the last 25 playoffs.

The Knicks came out on a mission to open the third, trimming the lead down to as few as six and the Garden very quickly had some life.

However, the Pacers would again push back with a run of their own, taking advantage of some sloppy Knicks turnovers to get the lead all the way up to 19.

Adding to the Knicks myriad issues, Jalen Brunson fractured his left hand late in the third, ending his incredible season and handing New York another injury to a key players.

Despite the best efforts of DiVincenzo and Burks, the Knicks were unable to mount a serious push in the fourth quarter, ultimately falling 130-109. The New York faithful rightfully gave guys like Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo a standing ovation as they checked out of the game for the final time, ending a tremendous season that just featured too many injuries.

The Knicks did fine offensively, led by DiVincenzo’s 39-point outing and Burks adding 26 off the bench, but their defense was just not up to its usual level and allowed the Pacers to be far too comfortable on the offensive end.

This game came down to the Pacers putting forth one of the all-time great Game 7 offensive performances in NBA history. They shot 67.1 percent from the field and 54.2 percent from three, with all five starters plus TJ McConnell reaching double figures. Haliburton, whose home/road splits in these playoffs have been talked about at length, finally showed up in a huge way on the road when they needed him to most, scoring 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting to go along with six assists. Siakam was also brilliant with 20 points and McConnell remains arguably the most valuable player of the series for the Pacers, with 12 and seven off the bench on 6-of-8 shooting.

Now, Indiana will go forward to face the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals where they will be heavy underdogs, but given they’re capable of tremendous shooting performances like they showed in Game 7, they’ll have a puncher’s chance if they can stay hot.

The Knicks will head into the offseason likely looking to run it back and give this team another chance at a healthy run through the playoffs. There are probably some changes to be made on the periphery of the rotation, but it’d be surprising if they didn’t mostly look to just bring this group back in full.