Advertisement

Knicks ready to feed off Madison Square Garden energy in Game 7: ‘This is what you live for’

Friday’s loss to the Pacers in Game 6 was tough for the Knicks. They were outrebounded, seemingly outplayed and Josh Hart had to exit early with an abdominal injury.

Although the loss doesn't mean the end of the Knicks’ season, they now have to play a do-or-die Game 7 on Sunday afternoon. Luckily for the Knicks, it’s back home in Madison Square Garden.

"This is what you live for. This is why you sign with the Knicks,” Donte DiVincenzo said after Friday’s game. “Come home, play in front of the Garden. Game 7. It’s going to be rocking. And that’s what we love.”

So far in this seven-game series with the Pacers, the home team has won each game. The last time both teams were at The Garden, the Knicks blew out Indiana by 30 points in Game 5. To capture the win on Sunday and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2000, they’ll have to clean up some of their mistakes.

According to coach Tom Thibodeau, the biggest reason the Knicks lost Game 6 was a lack of “finishing.” They didn’t get the second and third efforts on possessions that won them the last game and their defense was poor.

New York was outrebounded 47-35 and Indiana outscored the Knicks in the paint, 62-38.

Simply put, the Pacers played the Knicks’ game better.

It was a similar case between Game 4 in Indiana and Game 5 at MSG. And now that the series shifts back to New York, the Knicks will have to use their hard-earned homecourt advantage to clinch the series.

"This is the exact reason why we played the last couple of games to get that two seed. This is the exact reason,” DiVincenzo said. “We're going home, Game 7. We know the Garden's gonna be rocking and we're trying to handle business."

"The Garden is the Garden. You get a little bit of extra energy out there and the fans are amazing,” Isaiah Hartenstein added. “Just have to come in step up, make the right plays, play with the right effort and go from there.”

While homecourt is great, this Knicks team knows it doesn’t guarantee victory and they’ll be ready for Sunday.

“We worked for [the No. 2 seed] but you still have to make sure you’re putting the work in to earn a win,” Thibodeau said. “You’re not going to win just because you’re at home. You have to put the work into it and play well.”

Jalen Brunson, who struggled in the first half but still scored 31 points on 11-of-26 shooting on Friday, echoed his coach.

“It’s something we fought for to have homecourt advantage for as long as we can,” he said. “I’m just happy our team has the mindset that we do. It’s not a given just because it’s at home. We have to go out there and earn it. They’re going to be ready and we got to be ready as well.

“I expect both teams to have desperation.”

Sunday's Game 7 will be the first at MSG since 1995 when the Knicks fell to the Pacers in the second round of the playoffs. This Knicks team will look to keep history from repeating itself.