Knicks: Knicks And Pacers Renew NBA Playoffs Rivalry From 1990’s...

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Published Time: 07.05.2024 - 00:13:47 Modified Time: 07.05.2024 - 00:13:47

1993 – Knicks Defeat Pacers 3-1 In First Round Knicks, Jalen Brunson, pacers vs knicks, Pacers

MANHATTAN, NY - CIRCA 1990's: Guard Reggie Miller #31 of the Indiana Pacers is guarded closely by

For most of the 21st century, the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers have not been relevant this time of year. Since the 2000-01 season, the Knicks have won three playoff series, while the Pacers have won eight postseason series.

It is the first time the franchises have met in the playoffs since the 2014 conference semifinals when the Pacers won in six games. Still, although the teams do not have much playoff success over the past two decades, they have a rich history as rivals in the 1990s.

From the 1992-93 through 1999-2000 seasons, the Knicks and Pacers played six times in the playoffs in eight seasons. Each team won three series. To this day, older fans recall that era when the franchises had memorable games that featured plenty of trash talk but mutual respect. Below, we take a look at each of the series.

1993 – Knicks Defeat Pacers 3-1 In First Round

The Knicks entered the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s top seed. They had gone 60-22 in the regular season under second-year coach Pat Riley, who had won four NBA titles as the Los Angeles Lakers coach in the 1980’s. The Phoenix Suns (62-20) were the only team in the league with a better record.

The Pacers, meanwhile, were the No. 8 seed. They had tied with the Orlando Magic with a 41-41 record but made the playoffs because they outscored the Magic, 444-439, in the teams’ four head-to-head matchups.

The Pacers hadn’t won a playoff series since entering the NBA in the 1976-77 season, and that streak continued against the Knicks. The Knicks won the first two games at home before the Pacers won Game 3 by 23 points thanks to the trio of Reggie Miller (36 points), Detlef Schrempf (29) and Rik Smits (25). Knicks guard John Starks was ejected from that game for headbutting Miller, but the Knicks bounced back and won Game 4, 109-100, in overtime to clinch the series as guard Doc Rivers scored New York’s final 11 points in overtime.

The Knicks won the next series over the Charlotte Hornets before losing in six games to the Chicago Bulls in the conference finals. The Bulls ended up defeating the Suns in the NBA Finals to win their third consecutive championship.

1994 – Knicks Defeat Pacers 4-3 In Conference Finals

With Bulls star Michael Jordan retired and playing baseball, the Eastern Conference was wide open. The Bulls had won three consecutive titles and seemed unstoppable with Jordan, but that was no longer the case.

In the second round, the No. 2 seed Knicks defeated the No. 3 seed Bulls in seven games, while the No. 5 seed Pacers upset No. 1 seed Atlanta in six games. The Pacers had a first-year coach in Larry Brown, who had coached four other NBA teams and had led the University of Kansas to the 1988 NCAA tournament championship.

The Knicks won the first two games at Madison Square Garden, followed by the Pacers winning two in their home arena. In Game 5, Miller famously made a choke sign at director/Knicks fan Spike Lee as the Pacers overcame a 12-point deficit after three quarters and won, 93-86, thanks to Miller’s 39 points, including 25 in the fourth quarter.

Still, the Knicks bounced back and won the next two games, 98-91 in Indianapolis and 94-90 in New York, advancing to the franchise’s first NBA Finals since 1973. But the Knicks lost in seven games to the Houston Rockets, who won their first NBA title as Most Valuable Player Hakeem Olajuwon had 30 points and 10 rebounds in Game 6 and 25 points and 10 rebounds in Game 7.

1995 – Pacers Defeat Knicks 4-3 In Conference Semifinals

The Knicks and the Pacers met in the playoffs for the third consecutive season. This time, though, the Pacers were the higher seed (No. 2), although they had a worse record (52-30) than the No. 3 seed Knicks (55-27) and secured the No. 2 seed only because they won the Central Division, whereas the Knicks were second in the Atlantic Division. Still, the Knicks had homecourt advantage thanks to their superior record.

In Game 1, Miller added to his postseason heroics. With the Pacers trailing by six points with 18.7 seconds left in Game 1, Miller made a 3-pointer, stole the ball and made another 3 to tie the score with 13.2 seconds remaining. Starks then missed two free throws before Miller made both free throws, giving the Pacers a 107-105 lead with 7.5 seconds remaining. The Knicks couldn’t get a shot off on the other end, giving the Pacers an improbable victory.

The Pacers took a 3-1 lead after four games before the Knicks won Game 5 by one point on a Patrick Ewing shot with 1.8 seconds left and then Game 6 by 10 points as Ewing had 25 points and 15 rebounds. In Game 7 at Madison Square Garden, the Pacers led, 97-95, with five seconds remaining. The Knicks inbounded the ball and found Ewing for an easy finger roll layup, but Ewing couldn’t convert, giving the Pacers the series.

In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pacers lost to the Magic in seven games. The Magic dominated Game 7, winning 105-81, but they ended up losing in a four-game sweep to the Rockets in the NBA Finals.

1998 – Pacers Defeat Knicks 4-1 In Conference Semifinals

Before the season, the Pacers hired Larry Bird as coach, replacing Brown, who left to become the Philadelphia 76ers coach. Bird was a three-time Most Valuable Player as a player and a future Hall of Famer, but he had never coached, although he proved to be a quick study as the Pacers won a franchise-record 58 games.

The Knicks, meanwhile, went 43-39 under coach Jeff Van Gundy, their worst record since the 1990-91 season. In the first round, the Knicks upset the Miami Heat three games to two, winning Game 5 on the road to set up another matchup with the Pacers, who defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers three games to one.

The Pacers took advantage of their home court, winning the first two games before losing, 83-76, on the road in Game 3. But they rebounded to win Game 4, 118-107, in overtime as Miller had 38 points, including making a 3-pointer late in the game to force overtime. The Pacers closed out the series by winning by 11 in Game 5 and getting a 22-point, 14-rebound, 13-assist performance from point guard Mark Jackson, who had the first postseason triple-double in Pacers history.

The Pacers then lost to the Bulls in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Bulls ended up winning their third consecutive title, and Jordan retired again for the second time, only to return later to play with the Washington Wizards.

1999 – Knicks Defeat Pacers 4-2 In Conference Finals

This was a strike-shortened season that didn’t begin until early February, so each team only played 50 games. The Pacers went 33-17 in the regular season, tied with the Heat and Magic for the Eastern Conference’s best record, but they secured the No. 2 seed thanks to tiebreakers. The Knicks finished 27-23 and barely made the playoffs as the No. 8 seed.

Still, the Knicks went on an unexpected run in the postseason starting in the first round against the Heat and Riley, New York’s former coach who had left for Miami following the 1994-95 season. The Knicks upset the No. 1 seed Heat, winning the decisive Game 5 by one point after Allan Houston made a shot with 0.8 seconds remaining.

The Knicks then swept the Hawks, setting up a Conference Finals matchup with the Pacers, who had won their first seven playoff games via sweeps over the Milwaukee Bucks and 76ers.

The teams split the first two games in Indianapolis, and it looked like the Pacers were in control late in Game 3, leading by three points before Knicks forward Larry Johnson made a 3-pointer and was fouled. Johnson converted the free throw for the 4-point play, and the Knicks hung on for a 92-91 victory. The Knicks ended up winning in six games to advance to the NBA Finals, where they lost in five games to the San Antonio Spurs.

2000 – Pacers Defeat Knicks 4-2 in Conference Finals

The Pacers made the playoffs for the 11th time in 12 seasons, but they had become accustomed to difficult endings. Still, this year they finally broke through and made the NBA Finals for the first time.