Nobody is giving the Indiana Pacers a chance against the New York Knicks

With Game 1 of the Conference Semifinals quickly approaching, every ESPN analyst has the Knicks beating the Pacers in the series.
Feb 1, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) brings the ball up
Feb 1, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) brings the ball up / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers play their first Conference Semifinals game in 10 years on Monday, and they have seemingly already been counted out from the start.

After taking down the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round to win their first playoff series in a decade, the Pacers are now matched up against the second-seeded New York Knicks, who are coming off a first-round series to remember against the Philadelphia 76ers. As a result, the Knicks have plenty of momentum and home-court advantage in this upcoming series against Indiana, which may be a reason why they are favored so much.

Prior to the first-round series between Indiana and Milwaukee, many analysts expected the Pacers to take the series, mostly due to Giannis Antetokounmpo's injury issues. Many had the Pacers winning in six or seven games, and if they had Milwaukee winning, it was almost always in seven games. This time, however, the tables have turned. Every single analyst on ESPN has the Knicks winning the series in anywhere from five to seven games.

That's right. Of the 11 reporters polled at ESPN, all of them have the Knicks winning the series. While the Knicks being favored doesn't come as a surprise to anyone, as they were the better team in the regular season, the fact that not one person gave the Pacers a chance is quite interesting, especially when you consider the Pacers' 2-1 regular season record against New York.

Of course, this record does come with a few asterisks, as the Pacers never faced a healthy New York team, and the one loss was an embarrassing blown lead in the Garden fueled by an inspiring performance from Jalen Brunson. Still, it is not smart to fully count out a team with Pascal Siakam and Tyrese Haliburton on it.

Notably, ESPN predicted another team to unanimously win in these playoffs which has already been proved wrong, as everyone on the panel agreed that the Los Angeles Clippers would beat the Dallas Mavericks. Of course, this did not happen, as the Mavericks disposed of the Clippers in six games, so these predictions are not exactly gospel.

Additionally, the Pacers are not exactly strangers to being the underdogs. Going back to before the season, Indiana was not even expected to make the playoffs, much less win a series, yet here they are now, fighting for a spot in the Conference Finals.

Additionally, New York may still be winded from their first-round series against Philadelphia, especially since Coach Tom Thibodeau ran an excruciating seven-man rotation for most of the games and played Jalen Brunson almost 44 minutes per game.


If Rick Carlisle sticks to his eight-man rotation that has worked out so well, and Pascal Siakam and Myles Turner continue their fantastic play with the addition of some inspired performances from Tyrese Haliburton as he is matched up with his good friend Brunson, Indiana may very well shock the world yet again and advance to the Conference Finals.