The young Indiana Pacers are aware of how important Game 7 against the Knicks is: “It’s the definitive game”

INDIANAPOLIS – They’re known as the best words in sports, and now they’re the challenge facing the Indiana Pacers on Sunday afternoon: Game 7.

It’s the first Game 7 for the Pacers franchise in six years: In 2018, they fell in the seventh game of their first-round series with the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-101. They are now in the second round fighting the New York Knicks. The stakes are higher given how far the Pacers have come, and the do-or-die nature of Game 7 means the team will face its biggest scenario yet as a group.

“It’s the make-or-break game,” head coach Rick Carlisle said Friday night. He has coached a Game 7 four times, most recently in 2021. This is the first in which he will coach a team since he rejoined the Pacers franchise three years ago.

For many Pacers players, this is their first Game 7. Aaron Nesmith, Pascal Siakam, TJ McConnell, Myles Turner and James Johnson have been on teams that fought in the duel-or-die scenario before, but Nesmith and McConnnell were gone. It doesn’t imply much. Nesmith even said that Sunday’s outing feels like his first Game 7 because this time he actually has a role on his team. He is no longer an observant young man.

Because many members of the team are inexperienced, Sunday’s battle against the Knicks is one of the most important games of their lives. Any chance of advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals is significant and the Pacers are just one win away. But first they have a massive test.

“I’m looking forward to the most incredible atmosphere I’ve ever played in in an NBA game,” said star guard Tyrese Haliburton. He remembers seeing some ugly, sloppy Game 7s in the past and thinks Sunday could be similar. One thing is for sure: effort and energy will play a very important role in the game. Each player will give their all knowing that their season ends with a loss. “There will be a lot of energy in the building, both from them and from us,” Haliburton added.

It is the tenth Game 7 in Pacers franchise history. Derek Kramer iPacersblog I recounted them all here: Indiana is 3-6 in their previous outings, including 2-6 on the road and 1-1 against the Knicks. The two teams have a long playoff history and this will be another chapter.

The Pacers have played a lot of big games this season. They faced the Los Angeles Lakers in the season tournament finals, and had some winning regular seasons that would have assured Indiana a postseason berth. Their first-round series presented two closing opportunities, and they took care of business in the second. The stakes of their season have steadily increased in volume.

It will reach a new high in tone on Sunday. The seventh game is as big as it gets. “It’s one of those things where the team that exerts the most energy and plays until they’re tired comes out victorious…we have to be more focused than I think any of us have ever been before,” the Los Angeles guard said. Pacers, TJ McConnell. In fact, he faced Siakam in his only appearance in Game 7, and Siakam’s Raptors emerged with a victory after a heroic buzzer-beater. “He’s brave. Both teams are going to play hard,” forward Pascal Siakam said.

Indiana will have to fight emotions. They’ll do their best to make it feel like any other game, but it’s almost impossible to avoid thinking about what’s at stake. Additionally, in a game that many believe comes down to playing harder than the opponent, it’s natural to think about giving your all on every possession, which is the right call, but it’s something else that can be included in the process. thinking of a player with an exploration expert. Game report and details.

“Everyone is excited about it,” Nesmith said of the upcoming Game 7. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The stars usually star in the important games. When the Pacers fell to the Cavs in Game 7 of 2018, Victor Oladipo had 30 points and 12 rebounds for Indiana. On the other side was LeBron James, who led Cleveland with 45 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. That caused the Cavaliers to win the game and eventually make it to the NBA Finals.

In 2016, the Pacers lost to the Raptors in Game 7 and DeMar DeRozan was the key. During Indiana’s final win in Game 7, Paul George scored 30 points and 11 rebounds. Consistently, stars make a name for themselves in a high-stakes outing like this. Sunday will be no different. But role players can also prove their value in big games.

Darren Collison was vital for the Pacers in 2018 against Cleveland. George Hill and Tristan Thompson were fantastic at the other end. Lance Stephenson was great for the Pacers in their Game 7 win in 2014. A wide net is cast to find potential heroes in big games, but only a few players will be caught.

Opportunities like these don’t come around often. It’s just the third Game 7 for Indiana in a decade. Legacies can be made or damaged in these games. Both the Pacers and Knicks hope to emerge with a franchise-changing victory.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Carlisle said. “We will do everything we can to get them ready.”