Knicks vs. Pacers score, highlights, takeaways: Pacers rout Knicks in Indiana to force winner-take-all Game 7

The Pacers bounced back from an embarrassing Game 5 loss to force a winner-take-all Game 7 against the Knicks. With a 116-103 win over the Knicks, the Pacers have pushed New York to the brink of elimination. 

Indiana was helped by a standout performance from Pascal Siakam, who dropped 25 points on 11-of-21 shooting. Siakam added seven rebounds, five assists and a pair of steals. Elsewhere, Andrew Nembhard scored 15, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range. All but one of Indiana's starters scored in double digits, and the Pacers as a team shot 49-of-91 from the field. They also won the rebound battle 47-35. 

For New York, it was another big night for Jalen Brunson. His 31 points led all scorers, but the Knicks' resiliency in the face of injuries was tested early and often. Playing without Mitchell Robinson, Bojan Bogdanovic and Julius Randle was already hard enough, but the Knicks had to make do without OG Anunoby again. Even more frightening is the status of Josh Hart moving forward. Hart struggled all night with an injury to his abdominal area before finally leaving the floor altogether. Hart has been a major cog for the Knicks, and his absence in a Game 7, and potentially beyond should New York advance would loom large. 

Game 7 is set for Sunday at Madison Square Garden. 

Knicks vs. Pacers: Game 6 score

Pacers 116, Knicks 103 

Here are the biggest takeaways from Game 6:

What to expect from Josh Hart in Game 7?

The Knicks survived without Julius Randle. They survived without Bojan Bogdanovic. They survived without Mitchell Robinson. They've even survived without OG Anunoby. Their absences haven't mattered in large part because Josh Hart has seemingly absorbed all of their minutes. Well, maybe not that many, but he's played 48 or more minutes four times this postseason. The Knicks need a jack-of-all-trades wing that never rests because their specialists are all hurt.

Well, Hart seemingly joined them in Game 6. He played much of the game with an apparent abdominal injury before ultimately exiting in the fourth quarter. The Knicks called it abdominal soreness. It's hard to imagine Hart leaving a possible elimination game with "soreness" of any kind. Regardless of the exact nature of the injury, the turnaround for New York is extremely tight. Game 7 will tip a bit more than 40 hours after Game 6 ended.

It is exceedingly rare for a player to suffer an abdominal injury without missing a single game. Even if Hart can suit up on Sunday, any injury painful enough to knock him out of Game 6 is sure to compromise him to some extent in Game 7, and without Hart, the Knicks are just running out of warm bodies to turn to. Deuce McBride and Alec Burks have already stepped up. Precious Achiuwa has really struggled in the postseason. Everybody else is already playing 40 or more minutes. Eventually, teams hit the point of no return where injuries are concerned. The Knicks might be there.

Pascal Siakam's gravity in mismatches

The best play of Pascal Siakam's night came on a dunk he didn't even finish. Just watch the buildup to this Myles Turner monster jam.

Siakam has McBride guarding him. McBride is seven inches shorter than Siakam. As soon as Andrew Nembhard's entry pass is made, both Donte DiVincenzo and Hart jump over to Siakam to protect against the mismatch. In doing so, they effectively part the red sea for Turner, who glides into one of the easier dunks of his career.

This is the conundrum the Knicks now face with Anunoby injured. Siakam scored 25 points in Game 6 because the Knicks just don't have a big wing defender anymore. Hart has done his best to hold his own in that matchup, but even he is too small. McBride has no chance, but because the Knicks have chosen to play smaller and start McBride to guard Tyrese Haliburton, he has become a target on both switches and transition cross matches. The Knicks could adjust by playing Achiuwa more as they tried earlier in the series, but he compromises the offense, and McBride is still their best chance at defending Haliburton.

Anunoby is the perfect Siakam defender. Randle and Bogdanovic at least have the size to challenge him. But right now, the Knicks are too depleted to properly defend him. They can either let him rack up points one-on-one or compromise the integrity of the rest of their defense to keep him away from the rim.

Indiana's latest Brunson adjustment

The Pacers have tried a bit of everything against Jalen Brunson in this series. Most of it hasn't worked. Tonight's primary coverage adjustment? Having the screener's defender, often Haliburton, the player the Knicks have hunted most aggressively in this series, hedge and recover. These soft-doubles made it harder for Brunson to generate any downhill momentum, and the results were mostly positive. Brunson finished with 31 points, but most of them came after the outcome was in hand. He was inefficient all night.

Will that adjustment hold up in Game 7? It depends on what the Knicks get out of the rest of their roster. McBride's 20 points are an example of how that scheme can come back and haunt you. If you're sending even soft doubles at a passer like Brunson, it's going to create open looks elsewhere. But McBride is still a pretty up-and-down scorer, and the Knicks are so thin right now that they lack the ability to cycle through role players and see who's hot. The Knicks could go back to making Isaiah Hartenstein their primary screener and hopefully pulling Myles Turner away from the rim, but that strategy isn't as valuable if Hart isn't in the game to attack the rim.

The Knicks will have counters in Game 7. Brunson will adjust personally. No defensive tactic has worked against him for long this postseason. But the Pacers found something that worked in Game 6, and they'll likely make the Knicks prove they've solved it before switching things up.

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FINAL: Pacers 116, Knicks 103

Six games down, one to go. The Indiana Pacers brought the home team to 6-0 in this second-round series, and now, on Sunday afternoon, the Knicks will host them for Game 7 with a trip to the Eastern Conference finals on the line. Pascal Siakam led the way for the Pacers with 25 points, but it was a balanced effort that saw six Indiana players reach double figures. Jalen Brunson led all scorers with 31 points, but it was an inefficient night and most of his points came in garbage time.

May 18, 2024, 3:05 AM
May. 17, 2024, 11:05 pm EDT
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Josh Hart headed to the locker room

Josh Hart has "only" played 31 minutes tonight, and he just went into the locker room with that same abdominal injury that has been bugging him all night. This is a potentially critical development for Game 7. If Hart is still hurt, that would leave the Knicks without him, Julius Randle, Bojan Bogdanovic, Mitchell Robinson and OG Anunoby.

UPDATE: Hart is officially done for the night. The Knicks are calling the injury abdominal soreness.

May 18, 2024, 2:42 AM
May. 17, 2024, 10:42 pm EDT
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Knicks hanging on by a thread

It's 88-75 Pacers after three quarters. The game isn't exactly over, but the Knicks would need to play a stellar fourth quarter to make this thing competitive. Jalen Brunson has found his shot, but the rest of the Knicks have struggled, and Josh Hart is still dealing with that abdominal injury.

May 18, 2024, 2:32 AM
May. 17, 2024, 10:32 pm EDT
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Knicks challenge successful

It looked like Ben Sheppard had just pushed the Indiana lead up to 18 on a layup that was called for goaltending, but review calls the block clean for Precious Achiuwa. Obviously a 16-point lead at this point of the game is still relatively safe, but when you're trying for a double-digit comeback, every bucket counts.

May 18, 2024, 2:28 AM
May. 17, 2024, 10:28 pm EDT
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There's the aggressive Tyrese Haliburton Indiana was looking for

Tyrese Haliburton's back-to-back buckets put the Pacers up 17, but more importantly, both were individually created stepback jumpers. It's not enough for Haliburton just to shoot. He has to look to create his own offense, and he's doing it here in the third quarter.

May 18, 2024, 2:18 AM
May. 17, 2024, 10:18 pm EDT
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Josh Hart asks out of the game

Josh Hart just asked to be removed from the game with less than seven minutes left in the third quarter. Think about how many 48-minute games Hart has played this postseason. He would have to be in very serious pain to leave a possible elimination game. That's something to watch tonight obviously, but remember, Game 7 is less than 48 hours away if Indiana wins. Tip would be at 3:30 on Sunday.

May 18, 2024, 2:15 AM
May. 17, 2024, 10:15 pm EDT
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Two timeouts in under two minutes

The Pacers took a timeout 38 seconds into the second half. It worked out, because after two consecutive triples, the Knicks have called their own timeout one minute later. Rare to see two timeouts in such quick succession, but the Pacers swung the momentum so quickly that the Knicks had no choice.

May 18, 2024, 2:06 AM
May. 17, 2024, 10:06 pm EDT
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Blink and it's a five-point game

The Pacers led by 13 with 19.1 seconds left in the second quarter. It's been roughly one minute of game time, and the Knicks have cut that lead down to five. Lazy defense, a technical foul and a great 3-pointer from Donte DiVincenzo can do that, but suddenly, all of Indiana's momentum is gone. 

May 18, 2024, 2:01 AM
May. 17, 2024, 10:01 pm EDT
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Halftime: Pacers 61, Knicks 51

The Pacers grabbed firm control late in the second quarter with a 17-2 run that put them up by 13. However, a final possession flurry gave the Knicks a little bit of momentum going into the locker rooms. An unclear out-of-bounds call gave New York possession, and Donte DiVincenzo nailed a 3-pointer. A quick Andrew Nembhard technical foul gave the Knicks a bit more momentum, but the Pacers are well-positioned to make it six straight wins for the home team.

May 18, 2024, 1:45 AM
May. 17, 2024, 9:45 pm EDT
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A mismatch leads to a monster jam

This might just look like a Myles Turner slam, but it's a bit more than that. Notice how much attention Pascal Siakam draws inside with Deuce McBride matched up on him. The Knicks have no adequate defensive power forward to throw at Siakam, so all of this help is creating opportunities for everyone else. On this play, he completely clears the lane for Turner. 

May 18, 2024, 1:40 AM
May. 17, 2024, 9:40 pm EDT
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What's up with Jalen Brunson?

Jalen Brunson has only five points on 2-of-8 shooting so far. Aaron Nesmith has been his primary defender, but you'll notice that the Pacers have been far more willing to switch screens on him tonight than they have earlier in the series, and Indiana's other defenders, notably Andrew Nembhard, have been much more competitive with him than they have been earlier in this series.

May 18, 2024, 1:33 AM
May. 17, 2024, 9:33 pm EDT
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Full-court pressure

Doris Burke just pointed out Obi Toppin's full-court pressure on Josh Hart there, and that's worth expanding on. It does a few things. First of all, obviously, Josh Hart is not Jalen Brunson. Press him and he's likelier to commit a turnover. But the long-game explanation there is that Hart is playing so many minutes, while clearly injured, that the younger, more rested Pacers are betting that they can tire him out by playing him so aggressively. We'll see if that matters when this game hits the later stages.

May 18, 2024, 1:24 AM
May. 17, 2024, 9:24 pm EDT
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Early free throw woes

Keep an eye on the free throw stats as this game progresses. The Knicks are 2-of-6 from the line top kick off what has thus far been a very close game. The Mavericks might have eliminated the Thunder already if they hadn't gone 12-of-23 from the line in Game 4. The margins in these games are razor thin.

May 18, 2024, 1:16 AM
May. 17, 2024, 9:16 pm EDT
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So much for Indiana's rebounding edge

The Pacers started this game with a 7-2 edge on the glass. Well, we're not even through the first quarter and the Knicks are back on top, 11-10. The Knicks are living off of second-chance opportunities right now, and those have helped them build a 25-20 lead with 2:33 remaining in the first quarter.

May 18, 2024, 1:03 AM
May. 17, 2024, 9:03 pm EDT
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Deuce McBride is on fire

The Knicks would obviously rather have a healthy OG Anunoby, but Deuce McBride continues to thrive in his absence as a starter. One game after scoring 17 in Game 5, McBride has 11 of New York's 17 first-quarter points and has made all three of his 3-point attempts.

May 18, 2024, 12:57 AM
May. 17, 2024, 8:57 pm EDT
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Josh Hart is hurt

Josh Hart is checking out of the game. He was holding his abdomen after that Pascal Siakam offensive rebound, and now, Precious Achiuwa is in the game for him. Hart barely ever goes to the bench, which is critical for a Knicks team that is running out of healthy bodies.

UPDATE: Hart has checked back into the game after a brief absence, but as this issue in his abdomen was bothering him before the game, it's worth watching moving forward. Hart will likely be playing through discomfort all night.

May 18, 2024, 12:55 AM
May. 17, 2024, 8:55 pm EDT
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Nembhard, not Haliburton, leading the Pacers early

We've had a bit of a trend in this series of Tyrese Haliburton putting up low point totals, speaking to the media about his need to be more aggressive, and then scoring in the next game or two. After scoring just 13 points in Game 5, we figured he'd be looking for his own shot more early in Game 1. Instead, it's Andrew Nembhard who has taken five shots in the first five minutes of Game 6. An aggressive Nembhard is obviously a good thing, but Haliburton is Indiana's star, and he needs to do his part as well.

May 18, 2024, 12:52 AM
May. 17, 2024, 8:52 pm EDT
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Pacers strike back on the boards

The Knicks have dominated the glass all season, but Game 5 was especially notable. Isaiah Hartenstein finished with 12 offensive rebounds in that one, the third most any player has had in a game this season. But the Pacers seem to have come out with a renewed emphasis on rebounding, as the Pacers grabbed seven of the first nine available rebounds.

May 18, 2024, 12:49 AM
May. 17, 2024, 8:49 pm EDT
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Knicks dressed for a funeral?

The Knicks showed up at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Friday night dressed in black. It's a familiar "funeral game" look as they try to end the Pacers' season. This same move backfired for the Knicks in 2013, however. 

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Knicks vs. Pacers: Game 6 info

We're about 30 minutes away from tip-off in Indy. Here's what to know about tonight's game.

Time: 8:30 p.m ET | Date: Friday, May 17
Location: Gainbridge Fieldhouse -- Indianapolis, Indiana
TV channel: ESPN | Streaming: ESPN/fubo
Odds: NYK +150, IND -178, O/U: 216

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