Knicks

Historic Pacers-Knicks Playoff Rivalry Has Returned

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For the first time in 11 years, the iconic New York Knicks-Indiana Pacers rivalry is back.

Like their previous iterations of playoff duels, the enthusiasm among fans of both franchises remains incredibly high especially after convincing first-round wins.

Beginning on Monday, the No. 2 Knicks and No. 6 Pacers will match up in the 2024 Eastern Conference Semifinals. It will be the eighth all-time playoff series between both teams and the first since the 2012-13 season. Jalen Brunson versus Tyrese Haliburton. High-octane offense taking on old-school defense. New York City against Indianapolis. Who’s ready?

In honor of this historic rivalry adding a new, modern chapter to its legacy, let’s revisit some of the most iconic players, moments and games from their all-time postseason battles:

1993 First Round: NY strikes first

Indiana remained a borderline playoff team up until this season, and the then-No. 8 Pacers faced an uphill battle versus the 60-win Knicks. New York won the first two games at home, but the seeds for the rivalry were planted in Game 3. As you can see below, the pot starts to boil here:

Up 2-1 heading into Game 4, big-time performances from Patrick Ewing (28 points and 13 rebounds), Doc Rivers (21 points and 11 assists) and Anthony Mason (25 points and 10 rebounds) helped the Knicks outlast the Pacers 109-100 in overtime. Reggie Miller averaged 31.5 points per game in the 3-1 series loss.

1994 ECF: The rivalry thickens

This was a seven-game series known for two iconic moments: Miller’s 39-point explosion — 25 in the fourth quarter — in Game 5 in Madison Square Garden, and Ewing’s late tip dunk in Game 7.

Both teams won their first two home games, but New York responded from Miller’s Game 5 performance to win the postseason series for the second-straight year. In a forgotten Game 7 performance, Ewing finished with 24 points, 22 rebounds, seven assists and five blocks.

1995 ECSF: Reggie seeks revenge 

For the third year in a row, New York and Indiana faced off in another thrilling series. Like in 1994, the 1995 series would also go seven games. In Game 1, Miller famously scored eight points in the final 19 seconds to stun New York at home. After taking a 3-1 lead, the Knicks responded with back-to-back close wins to force a do-or-die game back in MSG.

This time, the Pacers finished on top. Ewing missed what was a game-tying layup attempt near the end of the game, and both he and Miller finished with 29 points in the thrilling win for Indiana.

1998 ECSF: Indy evens the score 

With Ewing riddled with injury, Indiana ended up beating New York 4-1. It’s the only time in franchise history that the Pacers defeated the Knicks in a seven-game series in five games or less.

In the deciding fifth game, Pacers guard Mark Jackson finished with an impressive 22-point, 14-rebound and 13-assist triple-double.

1999 ECF: New York’s Cinderella magic

At this point, 1999 marked the fifth Knicks-Pacers postseason matchup in seven years. Like last year, an injury to Ewing (this time an Achilles tear) looked like it would put New York away for good.

Instead, the Knicks built on their upset win over No. 1 Miami in the prior round as the Cinderella run continued versus the Pacers. In Game 3, with the series tied 1-1, Knicks forward Larry Johnson drilled and converted this four-point play with under seven seconds to go to stun Indiana.

New York’s elite defense held Miller to 16.2 PPG on 36% shooting in the series, and the Ewing-less Knicks became the first eight-seed to advance to the NBA Finals in league history.

2000 ECF: Indiana puts end to Ewing era

In a season where most of the stars aligned, Indiana finished this season first in the Eastern Conference and matched up versus New York in the ECF for the second-straight year. Yet again, just like earlier, both teams also met up this year for the third consecutive season.

Despite the upset in 1999, the Pacers exacted their revenge in what was Ewing’s final season with the Knicks. The Pacers advanced to the NBA Finals for the first and only time in franchise history up to this point. As for the Knicks, they wouldn’t reach the ECSF again for over a decade. Until…

2013 ECSF: Melo versus PG

Despite a rocky 2000s, both franchises reemerged in the postseason spotlight in 2013. New York finished with 54 wins (most since 1996-97) and won its first playoff series since 1999-00. Carmelo Anthony shined as a legit top-five player for a very recognizable Knicks squad. This also marks the last time the Knicks would make the postseason until 2020-21.

As for the Pacers, Paul George ascended into one of the league’s best players. Indiana won 49 games, but eventually made it to its first ECF since 2003-04.

Anthony scored a whopping 28.5 PPG in the series, but four Indiana players scored in double-figures as the Pacers won the series 4-2. With Indiana up 3-2, New York led by two points with under five minutes to go before the Pacers stole the show down the end.

2024 ECSF: Rivalry renewed

Indiana is 22-19 all-time versus New York in the NBA playoffs, dating back to 1993. For the Knicks, its their best season since that iconic 2012-2013 team. For the Pacers, they’ve finally found some success in the post-PG13 era. Both teams play contrasting styles and are led by some of the top point guards in the league.

Saddled with depth and energy, expect this series to play out like history has shown before.

About Dominic Chiappone

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