Knicks-Pacers Game 7 could come down to who wins the board battle

The Knicks have held significant rebounding advantages in their three home wins in the second round, but each of their three losses at Indiana gave up that advantage.

Tom Thibodeau’s injury-ravaged team will need to continue that trend in Sunday’s Game 7 at the Garden for a chance to advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2000.

After the Knicks obliterated the team 53-29 on the glass in Game 5, and after the Knicks won the rebound battle with a 62-38 win in the paint, the Pacers responded to manager Rick Carlisle’s “rebound the damn ball.” “Come and do it,” he responded to his impious plea. They won Game 6 of the series tie on Friday, 12 (47-35).

Isaiah Hartenstein and his teammates, who fought with TJ McConnell for a loose ball in the Knicks’ Game 6 loss, will have to win the rebound battle in Game 7. AP

“Well, they did a good job. We knew they were going to do it after the last game, and that’s the result,” Thibodeau said after the game. “I think the Force need to be ready for that in games like this.

“When you go back to the wall, you’re going to have a sense of urgency and desperation, but you’ve got to match that intensity and keep going. The way we entered the match was good, but we couldn’t sustain it. ”

The Knicks will be able to keep, or at least use, Josh Hart, the playoffs’ top rebounder (11.8 per game), who is listed as questionable after suffering an abdominal strain in Game 6. That problem will need to be resolved.

In their first three wins at the Garden, the Knicks outscored Indiana 137-95, an average of 45.7-31.7.

Conversely, the Pacers control the glass by a 141-119 (47.0-39.7) margin in their three home wins.

“It’s just a physical thing. They reacted similar to how we reacted. [Game 5]” said Isaiah Hartenstein. “I mean, I think they shot about another 15 percent. There were a couple. [of rebounds] I certainly should have gotten it.

“We need to make it look easier, but at the end of the day there were some possessions where we should have gotten the ball 50-50.”

Guard Donte DiVincenzo added. “Loose balls, second-chance rebounds, I think you’ve heard that the last few days, that was the emphasis for them. Attacking the glass, getting loose balls, just making a few plays.”Have more grit. hand. And that’s exactly what they did. We have to give them credit. They were coming home. They feed off the energy and the crowd and now we see that and that’s what we have to do on Sunday.”