Knicks vs. Pacers rivalry, explained: 90s NBA Playoff foes face off in 2024 Eastern Conference Semifinals

The Knicks and Pacers are set to face off in the 2024 Eastern Conference Semifinals, reviving a classic rivalry from the 1990s.

It might not be Patrick Ewing and John Starks versus Reggie Miller, but star guards Jalen Brunson and Tyrese Haliburton are ready to take the torch.

This year’s Knicks will do their part to bring back the nostalgia of those iconic 90s playoff series. Tom Thibodeau’s squad wants to play a slow and physical game reminiscent of the past. Rick Carlisle’s squad wants to run wild, pushing the pace on every possession.

There is plenty of history behind these two franchises meeting for the eighth time in the NBA Playoffs. The rivalry might be most remembered for the iconic picture of Miller’s choking signal toward renowned film director and Knicks superfan Spike Lee, but there is much more to recall.

Before those contrasting play styles clash, take a trip down memory lane on a renewed rivalry.

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How many times have Knicks and Pacers played in NBA Playoffs?

The 2024 Eastern Conference Semifinals will be the eighth time the Knicks and Pacers have faced off in the playoffs.

In the 90s, it felt inevitable that these two teams would collide in the postseason. New York and Indiana met in the playoffs six times in eight years from 1993 to 2000, then again in 2013.

They have had one first-round series, three (soon to be four) Eastern Conference Semifinals series and three Eastern Conference Finals series.

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Their most recent playoff matchup was in the 2013 Eastern Conference Semifinals, where Paul George’s Pacers took down Carmelo Anthony’s Knicks in six games.

Knicks vs. Pacers record in NBA Playoffs

The Pacers have won four head-to-head playoff series to the Knicks’ three. 

In total, the Pacers have beaten the Knicks in 22 playoff games while New York has beaten Indiana 19 times.

Year Round Result
1993 First Round Knicks in 4 (3-1)
1994 Conference Finals Knicks in 7 (4-3)
1995 Conference Semifinals Pacers in 7 (4-3)
1998 Conference Semifinals Pacers in 5 (4-1)
1999 Conference Finals Knicks in 6 (4-2)
2000 Conference Finals Pacers in 6 (4-2)
2013 Conference Semifinals Pacers in 6 (4-2)
2024 Conference Semifinals TBD

Best moments from Knicks vs. Pacers in NBA Playoffs

1993: John Starks headbutts Reggie Miller

The rivalry started with a headbutt.

The No. 1 seed Knicks were matched up with the No. 8 seed Pacers and New York was expected to take care of business with ease. The Knicks took the first two games of the series at Madison Square Garden, and Starks rubbed Miller the wrong way by snubbing his handshake after Game 2.

In Game 3, Miller came out firing, exploding for a game-high 36 points to lead the Pacers to a win. His constant trash talk toward Starks ignited a fire, as Starks headbutted Miller in the third quarter and got ejected from the game.

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The Knicks went on to win the series in four games.

1994: Reggie Miller’s choke sign at Spike Lee

This is the moment of the Knicks and Pacers rivalry.

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The 1994 Eastern Conference Finals was tied 2-2, setting the stage for a pivotal Game 5 at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks held a commanding 12-point lead going into the fourth quarter, but Miller wasn’t going down easy.

The sharpshooter caught fire with 25 points in the final frame, finishing with 31 points to lead the Pacers to an improbable comeback to steal Game 5.

During his scoring outburst, Miller delivered an iconic choking sign toward Knicks superfan Lee that is engraved in NBA history.

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What people might forget is that the Knicks went on to win Games 6 and 7, bouncing Miller and the Pacers from the playoffs to reach the NBA Finals.

1995: Reggie Miller’s eight points in nine seconds

Familiar foes at this point, the Knicks and Pacers met in the playoffs for the third consecutive year in the 1995 East Semis. Miller was quick to deliver another memorable moment at Madison Square Garden, bringing Indiana back from the dead in Game 1.

New York led by six points with 18.7 seconds remaining when Miller drained a clutch 3-pointer to make it a one-possession game. Knicks’ Anthony Mason tried to inbound the ball to Greg Anthony, but Anthony fell forward and the ball ended up right in Miller’s hands.

The 3-point sniper stepped beyond the arc and buried a game-tying 3 with 13.2 seconds left. Miller’s teammate, Sam Mitchell, did not realize the score and intentionally fouled John Starks.

Starks, shockingly, missed both free throws and Ewing missed the putback. Miller rebounded Ewing’s miss and was fouled, calmly stepping to the line to sink both freebies to win the game.

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The Pacers went on to win the series in seven games.

1999: Larry Johnson’s four-point play

The Knicks and Pacers met again in the 1999 Eastern Conference Finals and the series was tied 1-1 going into Game 3. New York was without star forward Ewing after he injured his Achilles in Game 2, but Larry Johnson stepped up.

Indiana led 91-88 with 11.9 seconds remaining, and the Knicks had the ball out of a timeout. Johnson confidently stepped into a 3-pointer, burying the shot while getting fouled by Pacers forward Antonio Davis.

Johnson hit the free throw to complete the four-point play and the Knicks won the game.

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New York went on to win the series in six games and advance to the NBA Finals.


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