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Knicks vs Pacers Rivalry Renewed

melo With the New York Knicks going to visit the Indiana Pacers in a 1-1 series on Saturday, now would be a good time to sit back and reflect on this rivalry. The only constant from the rivalry still around today is Spike Lee, sitting on the front row at Madison Square Garden decked out in his orange and blue. No matter what you think of Lee’s movies or his political views, you have to like his fan-hood. He is not just some casual fan. He bleeds orange and blue.

His rivalry with the Pacer’s Reggie Miller was the stuff of legend. Miller giving Lee the choke sign. Miller scoring eight points in the last 15 seconds to pull out a win at MSG. Great stuff.

The rivalry goes back to 1993. This is the seventh time in 20 years these two have met in the playoffs, but the first time in 10 seasons. So let’s see what we’ve been missing:

1993- The Pacers squeaked into the playoffs as the eighth seed and faced the 60-22 Knicks in a best of five. The series was remembered for the Knicks John Starks head-butting Reggie Miller. The rivalry was on. The Knicks won the series in four games.

1994- The two met in the Eastern Conference Finals. This was the first of two playoffs during the Michael Jordan/baseball hiatus. The Pacers beat the Knicks in a memorable Game Five in New York when Miller scored 25 points in the fourth quarter while jawing with Lee. Knicks fans were blaming Lee for the loss as it looked as if the Knicks were in trouble having to go back to Indiana on a three game losing streak. But the Knicks won games six and seven, Miller missing a three late in Game Seven.

1995- Eastern Semifinals this time. And this time the Pacers won it. Miller earned the nickname “the Knick Killer” in this series. New York had lost in the NBA Finals the previous year in seven games to the Houston Rockets and were favored to get back in 1995 and finish the job. However, Miller and the Pacers had other ideas. The Pacers stole Game One when Miller scored 8 points in the last 18.7 seconds. The series went seven game again after the Knicks again won Game Six in Indiana to force a seventh game. The Knicks had a chance to send Game Seven into overtime but Patrick Ewing missed a layup at the buzzer as Indiana won 97-95.

1998- The Pacers were the favorites this time and hosted Games One and Two. Ewing was not 100% in the series with a bad wrist. But he had a big game in Game Three to make it 2-1 Pacers going into Game Four. But Game Four was again Miller time as he scored 38 points including a game-tying three with 5 seconds left in regulation. The Pacers won the game in overtime to go up 3-1. They won Game Five to win the series.

1999– The two met in the Eastern Conference Finals. In the first post-Jordan year of his second retirement, the Knicks and Pacers met for the conference championship. The teams split the first two games in Indiana, but Ewing went down with an Achilles injury in Game Two and was out for the rest of the playoffs. But the eighth seeded Knicks rallied to win in Game Three, thanks in large part to a controversial four-point play, foul call on Antonio Davis when Larry Johnson appeared to not have gone into his shooting motion before the contact. He hit a three and was given a free throw which won the game. The Knicks went on to win the series and become the first eight seed to make it to the Finals.

2000- In the Eastern Conference Finals, the home teams won the first five games. With the Pacers going on the road up 3-2, Miller scored 34 points in the Pacers 93-80 win. It would be Ewing’s last game as a player. It was also the Pacers only Eastern Conference Championship in franchise history.

Now the two meet again in 2013 as the Knicks won their first playoff series since 2000. After the Pacers won Game One in New York, the Knicks went on a 30-2 run in the second half to win Game Two. So with the next two games in Indiana, the Knicks will need to get at least a split to avoid going down 3-1 going back to New York.



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