Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) reacts after getting injured during...

Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) reacts after getting injured during the first half of Game 6 against the Indiana Pacers in an NBA basketball second-round playoff series, Friday, May 17, 2024, in Indianapolis. Credit: AP/Michael Conroy


One more chance.

That’s all the Knicks have left to take what they believe is theirs. That’s all they have left to extend what so many fans believe has been a magical season that has helped them forget about nearly two decades of dysfunction and disappointment.

The Knicks failed to close out their series with the Pacers on Friday night, suffering a 116-103 loss in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinal.

Now it’s all going to come down to Game 7 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon.

“I expect both teams to have desperation,” Jalen Brunson said of the win-or-go-home game.

The Knicks could be both desperate and shorthanded and missing another starter. Josh Hart, who suffered an abdominal injury in the first half, returned in the second half but clearly was not himself and did not play the final nine minutes of the game.

Oh, and if this isn’t stressful enough for Knicks fans, the history of Game 7 at Madison Square Garden is not a good one for your team.

The Knicks haven’t played a Game 7 at the Garden in any playoff series since hosting the Pacers in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 1995. The Pacers won that game, 97-95, after Patrick Ewing missed a finger roll that would have sent the game into overtime. If that wasn’t painful enough, four weeks later, Pat Riley faxed in his resignation.

Those are quite some ghosts to vanquish.

The one thing that the Knicks have going for them is that they have played extremely well in the playoffs in their home arena.

Wonder why the Knicks played so hard down the stretch of the regular season? It’s for situations like this. The home team has won every game of this series. In fact, the Knicks’ only postseason loss at home was in Game 5 of their first-round series. The Pacers, meanwhile, remain undefeated at home during the playoffs.

“We worked for home-court advantage, but you still have to make sure you are putting in the work to win,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said after Game 6. “You’re not going to win just because you are home.”

The Knicks clearly entered Friday’s game thinking they could put the Pacers’ season to bed. The players all got off the team bus wearing black, almost as if they were attending someone else’s funeral. OK, almost all of the Knicks were wearing black. Deuce McBride apparently did not get the memo and had on a lime-green shirt.

McBride made up for the miscommunication by having one eloquent first half. His 15 first-half points kept the game from getting completely out of hand while Jalen Brunson was having his worst first half of the playoffs. After Brunson made his first two shots of the game, he missed 11 straight.

Brunson did score 26 points in the second half, but the Knicks clearly missed Hart’s rebounding, defense and ability to just make something happen.

Hart’s injury is just the latest one to befall a Knicks starter. The team already was playing without Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, OG Anunoby and top reserve Bojan Bogdanovic. Hart’s abdominal issue, however, may be one they just can’t get past.

Just hours earlier, things had seemed so different. It looked as though the Knicks were on the precipice of making it to the conference finals for the first time since 2000.

In fact, there had been much talk in the days between the Knicks’ Game 5 win and Game 6 about how both the Knicks and the Rangers had a chance to be playing simultaneously in the conference finals for the first time since 1994.

The Rangers closed out their second-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes with a 5-3 win in Game 6 on Thursday.

Given that their sports are played at the same time of the year and require vastly different skill sets, there isn’t always a giant crossover between basketball and hockey fans, let alone basketball and hockey players. With the Knicks and Rangers, however, it’s a little bit different because they share the same arena and same practice facility.

While not exactly co-workers, a day at the office means players from both teams run into one another. They share the same cafeteria and they walk the same hallways.

“I’m glad that they finished it out,” McBride said Friday after his team’s shootaround. “We see those guys around the facility a bit, and you know we’re always telling each other ‘Good luck’ and, you know, ‘Just go get it done.’ ”

The Knicks could use a few of those good lucks now.


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