The Indiana Pacers have often been labeled as soft over these past few years, but when push came to shove, they showed up on the big stage to keep their season alive.

Led by strong performances from Pascal Siakam and Myles Turner, Indiana took a 116-103 win over the New York Knicks in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal match-up to force a deciding Game 7 at Madison Square Garden. With the win, the Pacers remained undefeated at home (6-0) in this postseason and extended their overall winning streak at the Gainbridge Fieldhouse to 11.


Siakam led the way for them with 25 points on 11-of-21 field goal shooting, seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals while Turner added 17 points, one three-pointer, eight rebounds, three assists, and two blocks. Indiana’s two big men also connected on what would have been the play of the evening–if not for Obi Toppin’s personal dunk contest in the fourth quarter–when Siakam passed out of a triple team to Turner who soared in for a powerful dunk.

Tyrese Haliburton and Andrew Nembhard had strong showings as well, with both players recording 15 points each on an identical six-of-12 field goal shooting. Reserve guard T.J. McConnell also played a key role as he scored 15 points of his own, including seven consecutive points to close out the third quarter which helped the Pacers enter the final period with a 13-point lead.

Indiana, particularly Aaron Nesmith, managed to limit Jalen Brunson for most of the game as he shot only 11-of-26 on the evening. Brunson wound up finishing with 31 points, but 14 of them came in the fourth quarter when the contest was beginning to fall out of reach for the Knicks. The efforts of Nesmith on defense against Brunson have been crucial for the Pacers in this series and this will have to continue come Game 7.

The most important factor for that do-or-die game though remains Indiana’s frontcourt. In Game 6, they dominated their counterparts as the Pacers scored more points in the paint, 62-38, and collected more rebounds, 47-35. If Siakam and Turner can pick up from where they left off come Game 7, it will be difficult for this short-handed New York team to beat them.

Indiana’s physicality and psyche has been doubted time and time again. However, they have only proved their doubters and critics wrong in this match-up. After falling behind 2-0, they battled back to tie the series at 2-2 with a tough Game 3 win and a statement blowout victory in Game 4. After the Knicks responded with a blowout win of their own in Game 5, the Pacers responded again with this impressive Game 6 victory.

This Indiana team was not expected to make it this far in the playoffs in the build-up to this campaign, yet here they are on the cusp of their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since 2014. These past few weeks have made it clear that these Pacers not only play with an exciting uptempo brand of play, but with a grit and resilience that hint that the future is indeed a bright one for this up-and-coming group.