Reggie Miller has had many memorable moments and clutch playoff performances in front of a hostile New York crowd at Madison Square Garden during his 17-year career.
“I think this might be the only time they don’t boo him,” Knicks guard Allan Houston told the New York Post. “Honestly, they have a respect for what he’s done, especially in that gym. Not too many people can come in and do what he’s done in that building. It’s almost like a home for him. I think they’ll show respect for them.”
Miller, who will retire after this season, scored 32 points in his first playoff game in New York in 1993 and his taunts in Game 3 induced an infamous head butt from former Knicks guard John Starks.
The Knicks rivalry with Miller’s Pacers reached a new level in 1994 when the former All-Star scored 25 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter to give Indiana a 3-2 series lead. In 1995, the veteran guard scored eight points in 8.9 seconds to eliminate a six-point deficit and give the Pacers a stunning win to open the Eastern Conference semifinals. He followed that up with 29 points in Game 7 to eliminate New York from the playoffs.
In Game 6 of the 2000 conference finals, Miller scored 34 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter, as the Pacers eliminated the Knicks to earn their first-ever NBA Finals appearance.
Miller has nine playoff games of at least 30 points against the Knicks. Only Michael Jordan has more with 15.
Miller has taken a back seat to some of Indiana’s younger players in recent years, but he’ll likely be the center of the Pacers offense on Tuesday.
The 39-year-old Miller has looked rejuvenated over the last 15 games since All-Star forward Jermaine O’Neal was lost for the regular season with a shoulder injury. Miller is averaging 20 points and 13.3 shots per game. In his 40 previous appearances, Miller averaged 12.1 points and 9.4 shots.
Indiana has won three straight and seven of 10 despite not having O’Neal in the lineup. The Pacers are tied with Cleveland for the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference.
“Right now, every game for us is a playoff-type atmosphere,” said Miller, who added 12 points. “We’re trying to obviously better ourselves and move up in the standings. We’re doing a lot of scoreboard watching as well, but we’ve got to continue to win ballgames and get better.”
The Knicks have lost six in a row to eliminate any realistic playoff hopes they may have had. New York has played well at home, with 21 of their 29 wins coming at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks made a late surge in their last game, but it wasn’t enough as they fell to the Milwaukee Bucks 106-102 at the Bradley Center on Sunday.
“Our effort just wasn’t there until the last 3 minutes,” said Stephon Marbury, who finished with 15 points.