Indiana Pacers Surge Past New York Knicks with Historic Shooting Performance, Advance to Eastern Conference Finals

Tyrese Haliburton delivered a stellar performance, scoring 26 points, leading the Indiana Pacers to a commanding 130-109 victory over the New York Knicks in Game 7 on Sunday. This win propels the Pacers into the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in a decade.

The Pacers’ first-half performance was nothing short of extraordinary, as they converted 29 of their 38 shots, resulting in a remarkable 76.3% shooting percentage. This marked the highest first-half shooting percentage in postseason history since the NBA began recording detailed play-by-play statistics in 1997. With this offensive blitz, Indiana took a solid 70-55 lead into halftime, maintaining their momentum and extending their advantage whenever the Knicks threatened a comeback in the second half.

Setting a new NBA playoff record, the No. 6-seeded Pacers finished the game with a shooting percentage of 67.1%, securing their place in the next round against the top-seeded Boston Celtics. This highly anticipated series is set to commence on Tuesday. The Pacers’ last appearance in the conference finals was in 2014, where they were defeated by the Miami Heat.

The Knicks’ aspirations were severely hampered by injuries, with Jalen Brunson exiting in the second half due to a broken left hand. The team had already been grappling with the absences of key players Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, and Bojan Bogdanovic. Although OG Anunoby returned after missing four games with a strained hamstring, his limited mobility led to an early exit after just five minutes on the court.

Despite these setbacks, the Knicks saw significant contributions from Pascal Siakam and Andrew Nembhard, who each scored 20 points, and Aaron Nesmith, who went a perfect 8 for 8, tallying 19 points for the Pacers. On the Knicks’ side, Donte DiVincenzo was a standout performer, sinking nine three-pointers and scoring a game-high 39 points. Alec Burks added 26 points off the bench. Brunson, despite his injury, managed to score 17 points and distribute nine assists but struggled with his shooting, going 6 for 17 from the field.

Reflecting on the season, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau expressed pride in his team’s efforts despite the disappointing result. “Knowing that this team gave its best effort all year long, I can live with the result,” he said. “It’s disappointing, but in the end there’s only going to be one happy team. Twenty-nine teams will fall short. This team fought like crazy and there’s no regret.”

The game marked the third Game 7 showdown between these franchises. The Knicks triumphed in the 1994 Eastern Conference finals, while the Pacers secured a narrow 97-95 victory in the 1995 East semifinals. This latest encounter showcased the Pacers’ explosive offense, which led the league with an average of 123.3 points per game during the regular season.

The Pacers opened the game with a blistering 39-point first quarter, setting a record for the highest point total in a Game 7 quarter since the play-by-play era began. They connected on 16 of 21 field goals (76.2%) and 7 of 9 three-pointers (77.8%) in the first quarter. Their momentum continued in the second quarter, shooting 13 for 17 (76.5%) and stretching their lead to as much as 22 points.

The Knicks, however, managed to close the gap to 70-55 by halftime and initiated the second half with a 12-3 run, cutting the deficit to 73-67. But just as the Knicks seemed poised to challenge the lead, three consecutive turnovers allowed the Pacers to extend their advantage to 84-70.

Injuries continued to plague the Knicks, with Josh Hart playing through an abdominal strain, eventually fouling out with 10 points and eight rebounds. Despite these challenges, the Pacers’ relentless offensive onslaught proved too much for the Knicks to overcome.

As the Pacers look forward to their matchup with the Celtics, they carry the confidence of a record-setting performance and the momentum of a decisive Game 7 victory. The stage is set for an exciting Eastern Conference finals, with Indiana eager to build on their success and continue their playoff journey.

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