NBA playoffs: Pacers run past shorthanded Knicks in Game 7 for 130–109 win

Indiana will face the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals

In a Game 7 at Madison Square Garden, the New York Knicks finally broke down Sunday while the Indiana Pacers broke out for a 130–109 win. The Pacers advanced to the Eastern Conference finals to face the Boston Celtics, while the Knicks are left to wonder what could have been if not for all the injuries they suffered.

Tyrese Haliburton scored 26 points with six assists to lead six Indiana players in double figures, showing the aggressiveness on offense that he'd been missing throughout much of the series. The All-Star point guard shot 10-for-17 from the field, including 6-for-12 on 3-pointers.

Jalen Brunson finished with 17 points and nine assists for the Knicks, but left the game late in the third quarter after fracturing his hand trying to defend Haliburton on a fast break. Donte DiVincenzo led New York with 39 points – a career playoff high – and was really the team's only consistent scoring threat Sunday. Alec Burks added a surprising 26 points off the bench.

New York initially got what appeared to be good news with OG Anunoby and Josh Hart starting the game despite injuries.

Anunoby returned to the lineup after missing the previous four games in the series with a strained hamstring sustained in Game 2. Prior to his injury, the forward was New York's second-leading postseason scorer at 16.4 points per game.

He hit his first two shots (including a 3-pointer) and looked like he'd provide a lift for the Knicks. However, Anunoby was clearly slowed by the injury, showing little ability to move on defense or get up the floor quickly. He eventually only logged five minutes to begin the game and did not play the rest of the way.

Pascal Siakam quickly took advantage of the matchup for Indiana, scoring 11 points in the first quarter on 5-for-5 shooting. He finished with 20 points, four rebounds and four assists.

Hart, the Knicks' leading rebounder in the playoffs (averaging 11.2 per game), also played after suffering an abdominal strain in Game 6 that limited his effectiveness. He scored 10 points with eight rebounds and five assists, but couldn't bring the defensive energy for the Knicks that he had throughout the playoffs. He fouled out of the game with three minutes remaining.

Indiana shot 76% in the first quarter (and 78% on 3-pointers), led not only by Siakam's hot start but by Haliburton looking for his shot. Haliburton scored 14 points in the frame, shooting 5-for-7 (and 4-for-5 from 3), asserting himself when the Pacers needed it most.

The Knicks looked slow on defense early and other than DiVincenzo, who scored 12 points (and went 3-for-6 on 3s) in the first quarter, no one shot well while Indiana seemingly couldn't miss.

The Pacers ended the first with a 39–27 lead. The 39 points were the most in a first quarter of a Game 7 in NBA playoff history.

New York came back in the third quarter, getting as close as 73–67 behind DiVincenzo and Burks, but Indiana consistently killed every rally attempt the Knicks could muster. With Anunoby and Hart still hobbled, followed by Brunson breaking his hand, the Knicks had nothing left despite raucous support from their home crowd.

"The only thing you can ask for is that everyone puts forth their best effort," said Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau after the game. "And we got that all year from these guys. What goes along with that is peace of mind, knowing that you did your best. That's all you can ask for. A lot of teams would've folded. They didn't."

For the game, Indiana shot 67.1% from the field (including 54.2% from long range), setting an NBA playoff record. Andrew Nembhard added 20 points, six assists and five rebounds with Aaron Nesmith getting 19, and Myles Turner tallying 17, while T.J. McConnell scored 12 with seven assists off the bench.

Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Pacers and Celtics will be Tuesday night in Boston. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. ET and the entire series will be televised on ESPN. The Celtics won three of five matchups with Indiana during the regular season.