Pacers one win from earning respect
by Mike Wells, USA TODAY Sports
INDIANAPOLIS — The lack of respect is still there for the Indiana Pacers.
They have beaten up, bullied and shut down the New York Knicks for most of the NBA’s Eastern Conference semifinals.
But the credit has yet to show up.
The talk of the series has centered on how the Knicks are missing shots, Iman Shumpert’s knee and who is and isn’t playing team basketball.
The Pacers can put everybody (outside of the New York market, at least) out of their misery of hearing about those issues Thursday.
The Pacers, up 3-1 in the series, can advance to their first Eastern Conference finals since 2004 with a victory.
“We haven’t won anything. We have to be perfect,” Pacers center Roy Hibbert said. “The (Knicks) play extremely well at home. We’re going to have our hands full. They are really an explosive team when at home.”
There’s no better place for the Pacers to get the recognition they deserve than to do it in the Mecca — Madison Square Garden, known as the world’s most famous arena, where the stars sit courtside and the crowd will be so loud fans can’t hear the person next to them.
“It’s going to be 10 times harder, it being in New York,” Pacers swingman Paul George said. “We know how well they play at home, so it’s going to take a great effort, so we’ll see where we’re at.”
These aren’t the same Pacers who hoped they could win on the road. They know they can win on the road.
The team that struggled away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse during the regular season has proven that twice in the past two weeks.
The Pacers put an end to their 13-game losing streak in Atlanta when they beat the Hawks in Game 6 to advance to the second round.
Two days later, the Pacers overcame early-game jitters in the national spotlight to beat the Knicks in Game 1 at the Garden.
“We won in Atlanta, which is a hard place to win, with our backs against the wall, so we know we can win on the road and I think we’re going to take the … [For more on Indiana Pacers one win from earning NBA respect, click here.]