Pacers shoot down Knicks to reach NBA Eastern Conference finals

Agence France-Presse
Pacers shoot down Knicks to reach NBA Eastern Conference finals
Tyrese Haliburton of the Indiana Pacers dribbles the ball in the second quarter against the New York Knicks in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Second Round Playoffs at the Madison Square Garden on May 19, 2024 in New York City.
Elsa / Getty Images / AFP

LOS ANGELES – The Indiana Pacers put on a shooting clinic to throttle the New York Knicks, 130-109, on Sunday (Monday Manila time) and book an NBA Eastern Conference finals showdown with the top-seeded Boston Celtics.

The Pacers won their second straight game — and their first on the road in the series — to complete a 4-3 triumph at Madison Square Garden, where their stunning offensive display silenced the crowd and sent them into the conference finals for the first time in a decade.

Tyrese Haliburton scored 26 points while Pascal Siakam and Andrew Nembhard added 20 apiece. Six Pacers players scored in double figures as Indiana connected on an NBA playoff record 67.1% of their shots.

Donte DiVincenzo made nine 3-pointers on the way to 39 points for the Knicks. Jalen Brunson scored 17 and handed out nine assists before departing with a broken left hand at the start of the fourth quarter — the final injury blow for the ravaged Knicks team.

The Pacers had struggled on the road in these playoffs but seized control at Madison Square Garden with a breathtaking first half offensive display that saw them connect on 29 of 38 shots in the first half, a 76.3 shooting percentage.

They led 39-27 after the first quarter, silencing the New York crowd.

"We were not expected to win these games," Haliburton said after the Pacers won after trailing 0-2 and 2-3 in the series. "We just came out, played free and had fun."

The Knicks showed signs of life with an 8-2 scoring run to close the second quarter but Siakam blunted the momentum shift with a block on Brunson at the rim to end the period leaving the Pacers up 70-55 at halftime.

The Knicks cut the deficit to six early in the third, but the Pacers — whose defensive effort included nine blocked shots and seven steals — had all the answers.

"Just a great game overall, top to bottom for us," Haliburton said. "We hadn't won on the road all series — we just found a way."

The Knicks, chasing a first Eastern Conference finals berth since 2000, hurt their own cause with two costly turnovers on inbounds plays and the Pacers quickly pushed the lead back to 19 points.

Knicks fall short

Any chance of another gritty Knicks comeback was doomed when Brunson departed, saying after the game he was hurt when he hit Haliburton's knee reaching for the ball.

The Knicks had hoped for a boost from forward OG Anunoby, who returned to the starting lineup after missing four games with a hamstring injury.

But Anunoby was clearly limited and departed in the first quarter as hurting teammate Josh Hart soldiered on despite an abdominal strain. The Knicks were already playing without Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson and Bojan Bogdanovic.

"Guys gave everything they had, and that's all you could ask," Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. "It was a battle all year, and there was nothing left to give at the end."

Three-time NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic and the defending champion Denver Nuggets faced a do-or-die game seven later Sunday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are trying to reach the Western Conference finals for just the second time behind a standout playoff run from 22-year-old Anthony Edwards.

The winner of the series will face Dallas in the Western Conference finals.

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