Donte DiVincenzo’s game-winner sinks Pacers in Game 1: ‘It better have gone in because I was wide the f–k open’

Donte DiVincenzo thinks every shot is going in.

Monday night’s game-winner to lift the Knicks to a 121-117 victory over the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals was no different.

Jalen Brunson had the ball in his hands with less than 50 seconds left in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 115, and DiVincenzo’s man, Aaron Nesmith, cheated over to help Andrew Nembhard defend Brunson on a drive to the paint.

When Nesmith helped, DiVincenzo took a step further beyond the three-point line to make it more difficult for the next closest Pacer, All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton, to rotate over and contest the shot.

And when Brunson passed out of the double team, the ball found DiVincenzo, whose open shot ripped through the net to give the Knicks a three-point lead with 40.1 seconds left on the clock.

His teammate, Josh Hart, was also open on the game-swinging possession and hit the game-winning three to put the Philadelphia 76ers away in Game 6 of the Knicks’ first-round series on Thursday.

“I knew [DiVincenzo’s shot] better have gone in because I was wide the f–k open,” Hart joked at his locker after the game. “But Donte, he’s someone who is a hell of a shooter, someone who has the utmost confidence. He puts that work in every single day. I’m going to trust him getting a pretty open look every single time.”

DiVincenzo’s shot marked his second game-winner of this playoff run.

He also made a three to put the Knicks up one with 13 seconds left in their Game 2 victory over the 76ers.

DiVincenzo said he was unaware of the game clock when he let the go-ahead shot fly on Monday.

“Honestly, I didn’t know how much time was left on the clock,” he said. “I wasn’t that aware that there was only 40 seconds. I was just letting it fly, being aggressive, trying to make the right play. I had no idea there was only 40 seconds.”

Did he know his game-winning shot was going in?

“Yeah it felt good,” he said. “I believe every shot that I shoot is going in. That’s my mentality. I’ve had that all year, make or miss, I believe the next one is in.”

DiVincenzo and New York’s supporting cast stepped up in a game the Knicks nearly lost on their own home floor.

Brunson scored a game-high 43 points, joining Michael Jordan, Bernard King and Jerry West as the only players in playoff history to ever post four straight 40-point games.

But without three-time All-Star Julius Randle (season-ending shoulder surgery) and sixth man Bojan Bogdanovic (season-ending ankle surgery), Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau was hesitant to play his second unit extended minutes.

As a result, the Pacer bench outscored the Knicks, 46-3, with Mitchell Robinson, Miles McBride and Precious Achiuwa combining to log just 27 minutes on the night.

Four of the five Knicks starters played 42 or more minutes, led by Hart, who played at least 48 minutes in a game for the third time in this playoff run.

DiVincenzo finished with 25 points on five-of-nine shooting from three-point range. He also drew a moving screen offensive foul call on Pacers big man Myles Turner the possession after his dagger three-pointer.

“It was huge. He’s been doing that for us all year,” starting center Isaiah Hartenstein said of his teammate’s plays on both ends of the floor. “I think now during the playoffs, it’s big for us. Those plays, I think without it, we don’t know what was gonna happen. So it was big.”

DiVincenzo had five personal fouls before drawing the game-swinging offensive foul. Turner did not agree with the offensive foul call, which the Pacers challenged, only for officials to confirm after video review.

“Just in my experience in this league, I think it’s best when the players decide the outcome of the game. I think it’s unfortunate that it happened,” Turner said of the call after the game. “We reviewed it, and they still called it an illegal screen, but it’s the playoffs. I felt like DiVincenzo did a good job of selling it and for the most part, you can’t leave the game to be decided by the refs.

“We have to take accountability as well. We knew at the end of the day that we can’t get to that position. … I think the Last Two Minutes, we’re all looking forward to that coming out.”

DiVincenzo’s basket capped yet another ferocious late-game comeback by the Knicks, who trailed by as many as nine points in the fourth quarter and were down, 109-104, with less than four-and-a-half minutes left in the final period.

The Knicks finished the game on a 17-8 run.

“The bottom line is whatever we have to do at the end, find a way to win,” said Thibodeau. “Whether it’s taking a charge, diving on the floor, coming up with a loose ball, getting a deflection, getting a blocked shot and putting it up the floor. Obviously, it was a choppy game for us, so we’ve got to clean things up.”