I feel like I’ve been transported back to the 90’s and we have the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks battling it out in a playoff series. These two teams really captured that essence of what it was like playing against a team so many different times in the playoffs. You had some characters in Reggie Miller, John Starks, Patrick Ewing, the David Brothers, Larry Johnson, Spike Lee, and the aura of New York as the big city and Indianapolis as the little city. Hicks versus Knicks is what people used to say. I remember this time so fondly as Indianapolis would host pep rallies, songs were being sung, viewing parties were happening, and there was that excitement downtown for each game. Buildings had signs in the windows, people had Pacers gear on, and it was just a fun time to be a basketball fan. The Pacers actually had to get through the Knicks to get to their lone NBA Finals appearance, and what other team would you imagine the Pacers having to get through.
So to me, it makes perfect sense that this year’s Pacers team has to get through the Knicks to advance to the Conference Finals, a goal that truly determines what this season is all about. It’s all about getting to play against the Miami Heat. Yes I’ve already booked the Heat into the Conference Finals. Does ANYONE believe that the Brooklyn Nets or Chicago Bulls are beating the Heat? Probably not. So it will be Heat and whoever wins out of Pacers and Knicks.
Now the players have changed, and the NBA as a whole has changed, so this won’t have that physical feel of what the Pacers and Knicks of old had. Hard fouls. Tough rebounds. Big shots. That could still come into play. You have Carmelo Anthony who is still trying to write his NBA legacy as he tries to make it to the NBA Finals. If Lebron James isn’t winning MVP this season, Anthony has a great shot at it. Paul George is trying to write his legacy as an Indiana Pacers prime time player, who will probably have the task of guarding Anthony.
You have the three point shooting of the Knicks, which will have to be defended by the Pacers as they want to get back to where their defense was. The last two games of the series with the Atlanta Hawks looked to show where that defense has been, and hopefully it won’t take all that long fo for the Pacers to get defensive minded. There will be some physical play as always because you have Kenyon Martin in the mix for the Knicks probably going at David West a few times. That should be a fun match up to watch.
This is what the playoffs are all about. Two teams that have some history together, making new history as the Pacers of new probably have no clue what the Pacers of old and Knicks of old did. But it’s been documented on ESPN with “Winning Time”, the story of Reggie Miller versus the Knicks. I even found a wikipedia page entitled “Knicks-Pacers rivalry“, and now we’ll only have a day to talk up all those old memories as the teams are heading to play at 3:30 PM EST on ABC as the opening game to the second round. That should be a game to showcase, and now it is the Pacers of new chance to show what they are truly about as the eyes will be upon them. Show the world what this “Blue Collar, Gold Swagger” really means. I don’t think it’s quite Hicks versus Knicks. But Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks playing in the playoffs is fine to me.