The New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers will revisit their rivalry on Tuesday, December 20. We revisit the postseason meetings between these teams.
Nov 4, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Charlotte Hornets associate head coach Patrick Ewing in the first quarter against Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports
Though the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, and San Antonio Spurs were the champions of the 1990s, the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers were crucial organizations. The rivalry between New York and Indiana, as well as the challenges they posed to contenders, made the decade what it was.
As the Knicks prepare to host the Pacers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, December 20, it’s only right to revisit one of the most storied rivalries in franchise history.
Between 1993 and 2000, the Knicks and Pacers met in the playoffs an astonishing six times in eight years. Two of those six series went to seven games, another two went to six games, and three were played in the Eastern Conference Finals.
As the two seven-game series display, the Knicks and Pacers went to war and rarely had a significant degree of separation.
New York and Indiana met again in the 2013 NBA Playoffs, thus rekindling the flame of an all-time rivalry. It’s entirely possible that the two sides will meet once again in the 2017 NBA Playoffs, with the December 20 game serving as nothing more than a preview.
In preparation for what projects to be an unforgettable encounter, we revisit the Knicks-Pacers rivalry and the postseason meetings that made it what it was.
Feb 28, 2015; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks former player Anthony Mason, who died today, is honored with a moment of silence at Madison Square Garden before a game between the New York Knicks and the Toronto Raptors. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
1993: Knicks def. Pacers, 3-1
Before the first round of the NBA Playoffs was a seven-game series, it was a five-game war. This gave the lower seeds less time to shock the world and the higher seeds less time to recover from a potential home loss.
In 1993, the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers went to war in what was the first of six postseason series.
New York defeated the Pacers 3-1, but this was far from an easy series. Patrick Ewing and Charles Smith combined for 49 points to overcome the 32 Reggie Miller scored in Game 1, with Ewing hitting a clutch jumper to close the Pacers out late in the fourth quarter.
New York came from behind to win Game 2 101-91, with John Starks posting 29 points and 11 assists, Ewing tallying 25 points, and Doc Rivers tacking on 11 points and 13 assists.
Indiana grabbed Game 3 in a lopsided manner, 116-93, behind a combined 90 points from Miller, Detlef Schrempf, and Rik Smits. Anthony Mason had a clutch 25 points and 10 rebounds off the bench in Game 4, however, as the Knicks closed out the Pacers, 109-100.
Following the win over Indiana, New York would go on to make its first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since 1974.
Oct 21, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Charlotte Hornets associate head coach Patrick Ewing during the first quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
1994: Knicks def. Pacers, 4-3
If ever you’ve wondered why New York Knicks fans loved the teams of the 1990s, then this is your answer. In the first year without Michael Jordan, the Knicks and Indiana Pacers inevitably met in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals.
It was then that Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, and John Starks led the Knicks to the first NBA Finals appearance in over 20 years.
New York won Game 1 100-89 behind a beautiful all-around effort. Patrick Ewing had 28 points, 11 rebounds, and six blocks, Charles Oakley poured in 20 points and 13 boards, Greg Anthony had 16 points, Hubert Davis scored 12, and Anthony Mason tallied 10 points, eight rebounds, and five assists.
Game 2 was no different, as Ewing posted 32 points and 13 rebounds, and Derek Harper tallied 18 points and eight assists in an 89-78 victory.
New York would go on to lose the next three games of the series, however, as Indiana dominated on defense to take a commanding lead. John Starks saved the Knicks with 26 points in an iconic 98-91 road victory over the Pacers in Game 6 to tie the series at 3-3.
In Game 7, it was Big Pat who sent the Knicks to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1973 with 24 points, 22 rebounds, seven assists, five blocks, and a steal in a 94-90 war.
Jan 18, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; TNT broadcaster Reggie Miller during an NBA basketball game between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
1995: Pacers def. Knicks, 4-3
For the second consecutive year, the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers went to seven games in a postseason series. This time around, the Knicks weren’t on the winning end of the battle between bitter rivals.
The Pacers were unable to follow in the Knicks’ footsteps by making the NBA Finals, but the win stung nonetheless.
Reggie Miller scored 34 points and Rik Smits had 31 to lead Indiana to a thrilling 107-105 victory in Game 1. That was the iconic—depending on who you’re asking—game where Miller scored eight points in nine seconds.
Derek Harper stepped up with 24 points and John Starks scored 19 to lead the Knicks to a 96-77 win in Game 2, but the damage was done.
Indiana would go on to win both of its home games with Reggie Miller and Rik Smits stepping up to give Indiana a 3-1 lead. The Knicks fought back to tie the series at 3-3, but Ewing infamously missed a game-tying layup in Game 7.
Terrible as the missed shot was, try not to forget that it was Ewing who made it a close game at all with 29 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, and four blocks.
They may work together now, but Mark Jackson overwhelmed Jeff Van Gundy’s New York Knicks in 1998. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
1998: Pacers def. Knicks, 4-1
This was the anomaly of the rivalry between the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers. Perhaps it was revenge for 1993, as the Pacers defeated the Knicks in just five games during the 1998 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
With Patrick Ewing and Larry Johnson both missing a game, the Knicks were unable to recover from the absence of their leaders.
Ewing and Johnson missed Game 1, and the Knicks paid the price with a 93-83 road loss behind 18 points from both Travis Best and Jalen Rose. Game 2 was no better, as Rik Smits and Reggie Miller continued their high-quality play against the Knicks.
Ewing led the Knicks to a win in Game 3, which saved New York from the potential embarrassment of being swept by a rival.
New York nearly won Game 4 behind the efforts of Ewing, Allan Houston, Johnson, and John Starks, but fell 118-107 in overtime. Houston did his best to save the Knicks with 33 points in Game 7, but Mark Jackson pummeled his former team with 22 points, 14 rebounds, and 13 assists.
It was a bitter ending to an underwhelming series, but it may have also been the motivation for the Knicks’ historic run in 1999.
Call me biased, if you will, but this is the greatest postseason run in NBA history. The 1998-99 New York Knicks became the first—and to this date, only—team to reach the NBA Finals after entering the playoffs as a No. 8 seed.
In order to achieve that unmatched feat, the Knicks had to get revenge for the 1998 Eastern Conference Semifinals
Game 1, as well as the series in whole, was an instant classic. Patrick Ewing posted 16 points and 10 rebounds as the emotional leader of a Knicks team that left it all on the court during what was a shocking road win.
Game 2 went to Indiana, 88-86, but Larry Johnson answered the call in Game 3 with the iconic 4-point play that gave New York a 92-91 win.
The Pacers won again in Game 4, thus sending the series back to Indiana tied at 2-2. Latrell Sprewell took over with 29 points and Marcus Camby added 21 points and 13 rebounds off the bench as New York took a 3-2 lead, however, and gave itself a chance to reach the NBA Finals.
With an injured Ewing forced to sit and watch his team play, Allan Houston etched his name into Knicks history by scoring 32 points and leading the Knicks to a 90-82 to win in the deciding Game 6.
It cannot be stated enough: the 1998-99 Knicks are the only No. 8 seed in league history to reach the NBA Finals.
Jan 18, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Jalen Rose receives the 11th annual Sports Legacy Award presented by FedEx prior to the game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
2000: Pacers def. Knicks, 4-2
Unfortunately, the string of success that the New York Knicks experienced against the Indiana Pacers ends here. The Knicks had one heck of a run—and made more NBA Finals than the Pacers—but the issues remain.
Travis Best, Dale Davis, Reggie Miller, and Jalen Rose weren’t exactly fan favorites in New York before, but this may have been the icing on the cake.
One year removed from the most improbable NBA Finals appearance of all-time, New York made it back to the Eastern Conference Finals. Unfortunately, after the two sides split the first four home games, Indiana won the last two to make an NBA Finals of its own.
The Pacers didn’t do anything especially flashy, but Best dominated Game 5 and Miller had a throwback performance in Game 6 with 34 points.
Latrell Sprewell did his best against the Pacers, and Patrick Ewing had one heck of a last hurrah. The Ewing era officially ended in this series, but one can’t help but be thankful to know that he played a part in one wonderfully true fact.
The Indiana Pacers are the only team in NBA history to lose a Conference Finals series to a No. 8 seed. Petty win.
December 11, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) returns to play against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
2013: Pacers def. Knicks, 4-2
The most recent battle between the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers was played in 2013. Extenuating circumstances ruined the series for the Knicks, as Tyson Chandler’s back injury, Amar’e Stoudemire’s knees, and J.R. Smith’s temper cost them dearly.
Nevertheless, it was a glorious season for New York, which won 54 games and secured its first Atlantic Division title since 1994.
Indiana won Game 1, but Carmelo Anthony dominated with 32 points and nine rebounds to give New York a home win in Game 2. The Pacers won Games 3 and 4 at home, but the Knicks fought back for another win at Madison Square Garden.
Anthony scored a game-high 28 points as New York protected its pride with a throwback 85-75 win over the rival Pacers.
The Pacers would go on to close out the Knicks in Game 6, but Anthony again protected the pride of The City. He scored 39 points and gave New York a fighting chance during its most successful season in almost 15 years.
New York and Indiana haven’t played in the playoffs since, but both teams are talented enough to make it back in 2017.