Indiana Pacers legend Reggie Miller turns 48 years old today. Miller was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year, after tallying over 25,000 points in his career. For a brief spell, Miller also held the record for the most 3-pointers in NBA history with 2,560 over an 18-year career, before Ray Allen broke his record in February of 2011. Miller’s contribution to the Pacers didn’t just reside in his three-point accuracy, though, he was also one of the finest shooters in history when the game was on the line.
Miller stands as one of the most clutch players in league history, if not the most clutch NBA player ever. Reggie was always there for the big plays when the Pacers needed it most, whether it was in the fourth quarter or in the final seconds of the game.
With that, we rank Miller’s five most clutch shots over his illustrious career.
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5. Game-Winner Vs. 76ers
The Indiana Pacers were coming off an NBA Finals loss to the Los Angeles Lakers the previous season, and looked to get back to that level again in 2001. As the eighth seed, it was going to be a lot tougher, especially against regular season MVP Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers.
In Game 1, the Pacers were able to come back from an 18-point deficit and were down by just two points with under 10 seconds to go. Everyone knew who the ball was going to. Even with that foreknowledge, Reggie was able to score, hitting the game-winning three over a rotating Iverson with 2.9 seconds remaining in the game.
4. Sends Game To OT In Madison Square Garden
New York Knick fans have witnessed enough of Miller’s heroics to have known he’s basically unstoppable under the glare of the Madison Square Garden lights.
In the 1998 playoffs, the Pacers were a 3 seed. They were joined by an aging New York squad in the second round of the playoffs. In game 4, down three with under 10 seconds to go, Miller was left surprisingly open on a three-point attempt. Reggie would total 38 points in the game, but none were as important as this three pointer. Reggie’s three tied the game, sending it to overtime.
With that, the Pacers were able to run away with the game in overtime, and the series overall, to go on to the Eastern Conference Finals. Poor Spike Lee.
3. The Double Miracle Vs. the Nets that Fizzled at the End
As previously mentioned, the year before his game-tying three-pointer against the Knicks, Miller carried the eighth-seeded Pacers in Game 1 against Iverson’s Sixers. In 2002, Miller saw the same fate with Indiana again the role of underdog as a 8 seed going up against another No. 1 seed team in the first round versus a Nets team that ended up making the Finals that year.
With the series tied at two games apiece, the Pacers had a chance to pull off a major upset against the Jason Kidd led Nets. Indiana came close, but lost a bitter double overtime game 5 to put New Jersey in the driver’s seat. But that game 5 was truly epic and showcases just how dominant Reggie could be when the game was on the line.
It all started in the fourth quarter with the Pacers down, 96-93. Indiana needed a miracle, and Miller delivered with a glorious fadeaway three that was able to bank in. The crazy part was that he launched it from 40-feet away!
But Miller wasn’t done playing savior. He came back again to force another overtime, dunking on literally the entire Nets team with 3.1 seconds left in the first OT.
Indiana was gassed by the time Reggie forced a second overtime. They only put up two points in the second extra period and ended up losing game 5 and, ultimately, the series. But despite the series loss, most memories of the that year’s first round matchup, recall Reggie’s heroics in Game 5.
2. Game-Winner Over Michael Jordan and the Bulls
In 1998, The Chicago Bulls were embarking on another playoff run to win their third straight title and sixth of the 1990s. The Indiana Pacers, led by Reggie Miller, Rik Smits, an aging Chris Mullin and a deep bench, pushed them as far as they ever been pushed since You Know Who game back from his attempts at baseball.
Game 4 is the scene with the Pacers trailing the Bulls in the series 2 games to 1. Reggie has since admitted he shoved Michael Jordan but did so knowing the refs wouldn’t call the foul with so little time remaining in the game.
With that knowledge in his pocket, Miller pushed off MJ to secure the ball from the sideline and shot the game-winning three over him to carry the Indiana Pacers over the Chicago Bulls in Game 4, 96-94.
The Bulls would end up winning the series in game 7, but Reggie’s three-pointer in game 4 to tie the series at 2 games each, ended up pushing MJ’s championship Bulls to the only game 7 he faced during his second three-peat.
1. Eight Points in Nine Seconds
There hasn’t been something as clutch as this in a long time. Reggie Miller’s performance against the Knicks in the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals showed he was the king of clutch plays, scoring eight points in nine seconds to beat the hated Knicks, 107-105 in a delirious opening game to the series.
The moment is so big and awe-inspiring, it was the foundation for ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary about Miller, Winning Time, and the name of the popular True Hoop blog about the Pacers: Eight Points Nine Seconds.
Down by six, Miller hit a three, then stole the inbounds pass after the Knicks’ Greg Anthony fell to the ground. Instead of shooting a quick jumper or going for a layup after the opportune steal, Reggie made the bold move to step back and shoot another three. That shot fell to tie the game at 105 apiece as a dazed â€” and three quarters full â€” Garden sat stunned. In a matter of seconds, Reggie had pulled the Pacers back from the jaws of defeat. A few moments later, Miller hit two free throws to give the Knicks an unlikely victory and brandish a hatred for him â€” particularly after his choking antics the year before â€” that lives on to this day.
And thus, “Boom Baby” and “Miller Time” live on.
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