The series battle between the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks is more than a renewal of several historic rivalries in the NBA Playoffs. Although these teams as they are structured today have little to do with the classic battles of the past between the Knicks and Pacers, there are still some similarities that are too hard to ignore.
Several players on the roster for New York have previous playoff history against the Pacers. No less than four players on this current Knicks team have faced the Pacers in the playoffs before, and all of them have won at least one series against Indiana in the past.
Marcus Camby had his first stint with the Knicks in the late 1990s. Camby’s Knicks defeated the Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals in 1999, and they lost to the Pacers in the same round the following year.
Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin took the New Jersey Nets to the NBA Finals twice, and they stepped over Indiana on their way there. The Nets took Indiana out of the playoffs in both the 2002 and 2006 seasons, with Kidd at the helm. Martin was part of the 2002 title run for New Jersey.
The last two ties between these teams won’t have much effect on this year’s series, but is still quite interesting. Rasheed Wallace and James White both have ties with the Pacers, but neither will be expected to see much time on the court in this series. White, who plays at the very bottom of the New York bench, was actually drafted by the Pacers in 2006, but never saw any playing time.
Wallace is out for the Knicks for the remainder of this season and will most likely retire, but his history with the Pacers is perhaps the deepest of any player on the New York roster. In 2004, Wallace was a key part of the brawl between the Pacers, the Detroit Pistons, and several fans in the stands. That brawl in Detroit decimated Indiana with suspensions and possibly cost the Pacers another shot at the NBA Finals. Wallace and the Pistons faced the Pacers in the playoffs in 2004 and 2005, defeating Indiana both times. In 2004, the Pistons beat the Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals, and then went on to win the NBA title. In 2005, Indiana fell to Wallace and the Pistons in the second round, and the series marked the final games for Reggie Miller.
The New York Knicks are one of the oldest teams in the league, and that fact seems obvious considering how many of their players have history against the Pacers. With a win against the Knicks, the Pacers are not only putting one more positive notch towards a classic rivalry, but they are also exercising demons of the past.