NBA playoffs: Pacers lock up Knicks to force Game 7

The Indiana Pacers will take on Game 7 against the New York Knicks.

Behind a lockdown defensive effort and Pascal Siakam’s 25 points, Indiana defeated the Knicks 116-103 in Game 6 on Friday to send the series back to New York. The winner-take-all game is scheduled for Sunday at 3:30 PM ET (ABC).

This is the first Game 7 in Madison Square Garden since the Knicks lost to the Pacers in the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) drives to the basket past Indiana Pacers forward Obi Tappin during the first half of Game 6 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series, Friday, May 17, 2024, in Indianapolis.  (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Jalen Brunson didn’t have a good time against the Pacers in Game 6. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

It’s pretty common for the Pacers to do whatever it takes to survive in front of the home crowd, the usual suspects on Friday. Siakam led the way on 11-of-21 shooting and had seven rebounds and five assists, while Tyrese Halliburton had 15 points and nine assists. TJ McConnell again scored 15 points to make the difference.

Miles Turner also did:

Then Opie Dauphin did this:

Indiana really shined on defense, especially limiting Jalen Brunson, who entered Friday averaging 33.9 points per game this postseason. Brunson still managed to score 31 points, but he was just 8-for-22 from the field entering the fourth quarter. New York did everything they could to help him, but the Pacers kept him off balance until garbage time.

Adding to the problem for the Knicks was starting guard Josh Hart, who left the game in the fourth quarter with an abdominal strain. New York hopes he — as well as another player — can play in Game 7.

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With the series now back in New York, the biggest X-factor is a player who hasn’t appeared since Game 2.

Knicks guard OG Anunoby left Game 2 in fourth quarter with hamstring strain, but returned is reported Sunday is a chance. He can’t be back soon enough for the Knicks, who have dropped three of four after winning both games Anunoby played in.

The Knicks acquired Anunoby at the trade deadline, which helped tighten up their rotation and make them one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. The team went 20-3 in games Anunoby played, but elbow surgery sidelined him for much of the second half.

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