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Indiana Bests New York, Forces Game 7 in East Semis


PhilBoxing.com




The Boston Celtics will have to wait a while longer for their East Conference Finals opponent.

This is because the Indiana Pacers, as expected, exploited their homecourt advantage to beat the New York Knicks, 116-103 and forced their semifinals series to a game seven.

There's really no place like home as demonstrated in this series where all six games played thus far were won by the home team.

Certainly, the Pacers did not look like the team that just two nights before were ran roughshod 121-91 by a Knicks squad that virtually used just five men to beat them.

It could be the familiar arena and the hometown crowd that transformed the Pacers from a team resigned to defeat in New York to a gritty fighting unit that was determined to win this time and take the series to the full route even if that meant going back to Gotham City.

If there was something familiar that New York has to cope up in this series, it was coming to grips with injury. And game six was no different as workhorse Josh Hart played hurt and had to ask that he taken out before the final quarter on account of abdominal soreness.

Hart is the latest to go down after OG Anunoby, Michael Robinson and Bojan Bogdanovic. Top ace Julius Randle has been out since the regular season yet.

With Hart out, Knicks were essentially down to six dependables. However magnificent they were, they just could not stand up to the Pacers who took out a page from the strategy employed by Minnesota against Denver yesterday that led to a game seven in the West: Use their height advantage to create mismatches.

That came in the forms of Pascal Siakam and Obi Toppin who used their length and ceiling to score against the Knicks relatively shorter frontlines as regular center Miles Turner asserted himself against Isiah Hartenstein, the Knick's tallest man.

The Pacers virtually sewed up the game by dominating the second and third quarter, 32-21 and 27-24 after a close opening quarter (29-30). Indiana and New York were tied in points production in the fourth quarter 28-28.

Siakam for the first time was the leading scorer for Indiana in this series, scoring 25 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Turner had 17 points and 8 rebounds. Four other Pacers scored between 11 to 15 points namely: Andrew Nembhard, Tyrese Halliburton, TJ McConnel and Obi Toppin. Halliburton also issued a team high 9 assists.

Jalen Brunson bucked a slow start to finish with 31 points. Miles McBride scored 20 points and Donte DiVincenzo had 18 points. Precious Achiuwa came off the bench for 12 points and 8 rebounds with Alec Burks adding 11 points. Hart managed just 5 points and 8 rebounds in 31 minutes he was on the floor. Hartenstein who outrebounded Indiana big men in New York Wednesday night could only produce 4 points and 7 rebounds but made team high 6 assists.

The deciding seventh game will be held in New York on Monday (Tuesday Manila time).

The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at teddyreynoso@yahoo.com and by phone 09215309477.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Teodoro Medina Reynoso.


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