Knicks-Pacers Rivalry Renewed?

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The New York Knicks and the Indiana Pacers met in the playoffs a total of six times between the 1993-2000 seasons. We all remember Indiana Pacer great Reggie Miller, who was deemed the nickname, “The Knick-Killer,” and oh how could we forget about his 8 points in just 18.7 seconds in game 1 of the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals. Or even better yet, as Knicks fans may rather recall, Larry Johnson’s heroic 4-point play, which sent the Garden crowd in a frenzy during game 3 of the 1999 Eastern Conference Finals.

There were some epic battles between these two teams in those seven years of basketball, and one could argue that there were no two teams who hated each more during that time than the Knicks and Pacers. However, since the 1999-2000 season, the Knicks and Pacers have yet to meet again in the playoffs, due in large part to the fact that both teams have endured several losing seasons since that time.  The Knicks and Pacers have only had a total of a combined eight winning seasons between the 2000-2011 seasons, and because of that, the fire between the rivalry had for the most part dissipated.

Now its the year 2013, and perhaps some of the spark has returned in this once highly competitve rivalry. For the majority of this year, the Knicks have been the second best team in the Eastern Conference, chasing the Miami Heat for the number one spot. However, recently, the Indiana Pacers have taken over the number two spot in the conference, while owning a 35-21 record and first place in the Central Division. Even though the Knicks sit atop the Atlantic Division with a 33-20 record, the Pacers for the most part has had the Knicks number, winning two out of their three meetings this season. The last meeting between the two teams was the most lopsided loss of the Knicks season thus far. The first game back after the All-Star break on February 20th, the Knicks endured what was an embarrassing loss in Indiana by a final of 125-91.

Things are a bit different between these two teams than they were back in the 90′s. Then, the Knicks were remembered more for their defense, with the likes of Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason, and guards like Greg Anthony and John Starks, it certainly was not easy to score against those Knicks. Now, it’s the Pacers who are regarded as perhaps the toughest defense in the league, while the Knicks have one of the best offenses in the league. Currently, the Pacers rank an NBA best in team defense, surrendering just 89.4 pts a game.

Last game there was even some bad blood brewing between the two teams when J.R. Smith and Lance Stephenson started to go at it. It is obvious that these two teams have developed more hatred towards each other, mostly because they are both actually relevant again. The two teams meet just one more time this season on April 14th at the Garden, which will most likely have a playoff feel to it. In 1998, The New York Times said of the Knicks-Pacers rivalry, it was “as combustable as any in the league.” Perhaps there will be more epic battles between these two teams come playoff time, just like in the 90′s.

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