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Indiana Pacers dominate New York Knicks in Game 7 to advance to Eastern conference final

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NEW YORK — The moment – Game 7 of the Eastern conference semifinals – and the environment – on the road against the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden – did not overwhelm the Indiana Pacers.

They cleared those obstacles and smashed the beat-up Knicks 130-109 in Game 7 Sunday, advancing to the conference finals where they will play the Boston Celtics starting with Game 1 Tuesday.

The Pacers put on an offensive show from the start. Every shot the Pacers took they made. While that’s figuratively speaking, it wasn’t that far from being literally true. They made 10 of their first 11 shots, 20 of their first 25 and 26 of their first 32, including 8-for-11 on 3s for a 54-32 lead.

Through two quarters, Indiana shot 76% from the field – the best shooting half of a playoff game in 25 seasons – and the Pacers finished at 67.1% shooting from the field, breaking the playoff record of 67% set by Boston against New York in 1990.

Whether it was Tyrese Haliburton swishing 3s from the wing or Pascal Siakam scoring in or near the paint or T.J. McConnell bounding around the rim for short jumpers, the Pacers’ high-octane offense delivered the road team’s first victory of the series.

The home teams in Game 7s are now 112-38, and the last time the Knicks had a Game 7 at home, they also lost to the Pacers in 1995.

This one was anticlimactic. The Pacers owned the No. 2 offense in the league during the regular season, and that was on display in the series finale. All five Pacers starters scored in double figures, led by Haliburton’s 26 points. Siakam and Andrew Nembhard each scored 20 points, Aaron Nesmith had 19 points, Myles Turner 17 and McConnell 12.

Guard Donte DiVincenzo led the Knicks with a game-high 39 points.

KNICKS: Jalen Brunson fractures hand in Game 7 as injuries doom New York

Indiana was a force the Knicks couldn’t stop. But other forces conspired against New York. The injury-depleted roster caught up to the Knicks. They were already without injured Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson and Bojan Bogdanovic. Josh Hart played Game 7 with a strained abdominal muscle, and OG Anunoby, who missed Games 3, 4, 5 and 6 with a strained left hamstring, tried to play but managed just five minutes.

Jalen Brunson, one of the stars of the playoffs with his seven 30-point performances, including a Knicks playoff career-high 47 points against Philadelphia, left the game in the third quarter with a fractured left (shooting) hand.

The Knicks made it interesting and cut into Indiana’s lead to 73-67 with 8:06 left in the third quarter. But the combination of factors made a comeback impossible.

The circumstances were too much to overcome.

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