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Key Pacers Share Thoughts About Game 7 vs. Knicks

Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton defends New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson in 2024 NBA Playoffs

On Sunday, a back and forth battle between the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks will come to a head in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

With the opportunity to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, thus putting them on the doorstep of the NBA Finals, it’s an exciting opportunity for both teams. As much of a toss-up as any series has been, predicting the game’s outcome may be a fool’s errand. That said, the uncertainty only adds to the intrigue behind a series that pits one of the most popular franchises in the NBA against one of the NBA’s most popular players.

Key Pacers Share Thoughts About Game 7 vs. Knicks

Ahead of the matchup, several key Pacers spoke about the impending matchup and their expectations. As only half of their rotation has ever played in a Game 7, players like Tyrese Haliburton can only offer an educated guess:

“I expect probably the most unbelievable environment I’ve ever played an NBA game,” Haliburton says of playing Game 7 at Madison Square Garden, per The Athletic’s Eric Nehm:

“I think we’re all excited to go. There’s going to be a lot of energy in the building, from them and from us. And I think just weathering our emotions as much as we can.

Don’t get too high. Don’t get too low. It’s going to be a game of runs.”

“And, I mean, historically, me as a basketball watcher, (Game 7s) are always so ugly,” Haliburton adds thoughtfully. “So I expect an ugly game and I expect whoever plays harder to win. And I’m excited to be a part of that.”

Third Time’s the Charm

Pacers star Pascal Siakam has played in two Game 7s, splitting them down the middle.

In 2019, Siakam’s Toronto Raptors outlasted the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round, eventually winning the championship. The next year, his team lost to the Boston Celtics in the semifinals. Siakam averaged 12.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 1.0 steal per game in those contests, shooting 39.1 percent from the field and going 0-3 from 3. Suffice it to say, the Pacers will likely need more than that from him on Sunday.

In this series, the 30-year-old is averaging 20.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 0.8 steals per game while shooting 52.7 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from 3.

It’s gonna take everything,” Siakam says of Game 7, per The Athletic’s James Boyd. “A lot of crazy stuff is gonna happen.”

“We just gotta stay within what we do… Come into the game with pure energy, just playing as hard as you can and staying together,” he continues. “I think that’s what’s most important.”

Elder Statesman Speaks Out

Of the four guys in Indiana’s rotation who have played in a Game 7, only two played substantial minutes: Siakam and Myles Turner.

Aaron Nesmith and T.J. McConnell are the two that didn’t. Nonetheless, from his observations, McConnell’s takeaway is that the team that plays harder will win.

“The team that exerts the most energy and plays to exhaustion comes out on top and it’s win or go home,” remarks McConnell.

“If you’re not playing to exhaustion in this next game, why even go?”

“It’s something that I feel like every player plays for; a Game 7,” says the 32-year-old. “…We have to be more dialed in than any of have ever been before.”

Can Carlisle End His Drought?

Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle has the most experience of them all. Among the most successful coaches in NBA history, Carlisle has led his teams to 15 playoff appearances. In four of those postseasons, his team found themselves in a Game 7. Carlisle went 2-2 in those do-or-die games, but hasn’t won one since 2005.

“It’s the ultimate game,” Carlisle says. “…We’ll do everything possible to get them ready. In Game 7s, it comes down to compete level and how well you’re tied together.”


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