Despite a heel injury, Joakim Noah delivered on his promise of a Game 7 victory over the Nets by scoring 24 points, pulling in 14 rebounds and blocking 6 shots.
In Game 7, the injury ravaged Bulls stopped a rally by the Nets, who fell behind by as many as 17 points in the first half but closed the gap to 4.
Joakim Noah climbed over the baseline seats, his foot that hurt so much two weeks ago that he feared he couldn’t play looking pain-free as he embraced his mother.
The banged-up Bulls held off the Nets to advance to the second-round series against the Heat.
The Pacers, who will be at the Garden for Game 1 against the Knicks on Sunday, are tough, defensive-minded and sometimes a little snarly, like the Celtics.
Amar’e Stoudemire might return to the Knicks in the second round against Indiana, but it will not be in the first two games at the Garden. Stoudemire, who also missed the first 30 games of the season following left knee surgery, who didn’t stop to talk to the media after practice Saturday, saying only “I’m not back yet.â?
The Knicks have won 58 basketball games this season, and won a playoff series for the first time since the spring of 2000. And because of something that dizzy and intoxicating, you now get the idea that the Indiana Pacers are just some kind of speed bump that gets in the way before the Knicks go play LeBron and them in the Eastern Conference finals.
From John Starks’ headbutt to Reggie Miller’s choke sign to Larry Johnson’s four-point play, the Pacers emerged as every bit the rivals for the Knicks of the 1990s as Michael Jordan and the Bulls.
You don’t get a parade for advancing out of the first round, just a reprieve. And for Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks, eliminating the Boston Celtics was a significant step for the franchise â?? but it is only the beginning.
For everyone who likes ugly, grind-it-out playoff basketball, you’ve come to the right place, as the Pacers and Knicks resume an old postseason rivalry when they meet in the second round starting Sunday at the Garden. Here’s how we see the matchups.