The Indiana Pacers are banking on the boost from home support to fuel their effort to tie the series with New York Knicks and push for a Game 7

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Rick Carlisle goes back and forth with the referee

The Indiana Pacers are facing a critical moment in their season. It’s a do-or-die situation. As the last playoff team with a flawless record at home, they need to tap into the energy of their fans to bounce back from a humiliating loss in New York and secure a crucial victory in Game 6 on Friday night.

“We’ve got to have a level of desperation that we’ve never had before, and we’ve got to be ready to go for 48 minutes and understand every possession matters even more than it has all playoffs,” said Pacers All-Star Tyrese Haliburton after Thursday’s practice.

Reaching this stage wasn’t by chance. The young Pacers have posed a tough challenge for the second-seeded Knicks. They ended a franchise-record 10-game playoff losing streak with a win in Game 2 against Milwaukee in the first round and went on to eliminate the Bucks 4-2 for their first series victory in a decade.

After dropping the first two games in New York, the Pacers fought back with two home wins to level the series. However, they hit a setback on Tuesday.

Aaron Nesmith reacts to foul in the game

The Knicks dominated the Pacers in a 121-91 victory, outrebounding, outhustling, and outworking them. This puts New York one win away from reaching the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2000 when they lost to the Pacers in six games.

Now, the Pacers’ season hinges on this: If they can maintain their perfect 5-0 record at home in the postseason, Game 7 returns to New York. But if they lose, their breakthrough season ends.

“We’ve got to play harder, we’ve got to play with a greater level of execution,” said Indiana coach Rick Carlisle, who won an NBA championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011.

“If you can’t come up with a ball and have level of possessions for the game, you’re not going to in the second round of the playoffs. We’ve got to do better, much better.”

Meanwhile, the Knicks are dealing with injuries to key players. Julius Randle, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Mitchell Robinson have been out for the entire series due to surgeries. Even if the Knicks make it to Game 7, none of them are expected to return.

OG Anunoby, known for his defensive prowess, suffered a hamstring injury in the second half of Game 3. His availability for Game 6 is uncertain, with coach Tom Thibodeau stating on Thursday that Anunoby was doing “light work, very light,” which is an improvement from earlier reports indicating he was doing pool workouts.

Rick Carlisle reacting

What’s been effective for the Knicks is their All-Star guard Jalen Brunson. He’s scored over 40 points in six out of 11 playoff games, including 44 points on 18-of-35 shooting in a crucial game on Tuesday night.

With two days off, New York had extra time to rest and think about the possibility of facing top-seeded Boston if they win one more game.

“I’m definitely excited,” said Brunson, the league’s leading scorer in the playoffs with 33.9 points per game. “I was always taught by my parents never to be afraid to fail no matter what the situation is, no matter the ‘higher pressure’ moments or whatever. If you win great, if you lose, learn from it, that’s just my mindset.” Or get ready for another elimination game Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

“I think the most important thing is not to get lost in the hyperbole and the distractions and focus and lock into the task at hand, which is winning the game,” Thibodeau said. “So put the necessary work into it and don’t get lost.”


By Ritik

Ritik Katiyar is pursuing a post-graduate degree in Pharmaceutics. Currently, he lives in Srinagar, Uttarakhand, India. You can find him writing about all sorts of listicle topics. A pharmaceutical postgrad by day, and a content writer by night. You can write to him at [email protected]

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