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Miller: Let the hate begin

The star expresses his feelings toward Indiana's Eastern Conference final opponent.

"I hate them."

Reggie Miller didn't hide his feelings Monday as he spoke about the New York Knicks and the Eastern Conference's other great rivalry.

The Pacers' guard stayed away from the "I respect them" line that had cushioned his remarks a day earlier.

"They always think they're bigger and badder than everyone," Miller said. "And we know they don't give us any respect. So why should I give respect or like someone that doesn't give us respect?"

Tonight's game in Indiana begins Chapter 6 of Knicks-Pacers in the post-season, a rivalry that has produced some of the most dramatic NBA theater of the past decade. The star of the show has often been the skinny, outspoken sharpshooter.

Miller has had some of the best performances of his career against the Knicks, most at Madison Square Garden.

He scored 25 points in the fourth quarter of Game 5 in 1994, eight in 11.2 seconds to win Game 1 in 1995, and made a three-pointer from in front of Spike Lee's courtside seat to force overtime in Game 4 in 1998 and spark Indiana to a series-turning victory.

The Pacers watched Game 7 of the Miami-New York series together Sunday afternoon, then practiced in the evening. They practiced again Monday while the Knicks returned from Miami and prepared to fly to Indianapolis later in the day.

"Personally, I wanted to play New York, somewhat exorcise some demons," said Miller, who has been playing some of the best playoff basketball of his career this post-season.

"We have beaten New York, but it's never been in a conference final. Detroit had to get by Boston, Chicago had to get past Detroit. So there's always that team you've got to get by to get to the next level, and New York is that team for us."

Indiana and New York met in the conference finals in 1994 and '99, the Knicks winning both. The Pacers won second-round matchups in '95 and '98, and the Knicks beat Indiana in the first round in '93, when their playoff rivalry began.

The Pacers and Knicks went after each other extra hard in the regular season, showing flashes of lingering animosity that has disappeared from the Knicks-Heat rivalry.

New York forward Kurt Thomas threw a punch at Jalen Rose during a Christmas game, and Miller grabbed his crotch and mouthed obscenities at fans in New York Feb. 19.

Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy wasn't playing into the rivalry, instead saving his most critical comments for the way Miami complained about officiating after it lost Sunday's Game 7 of the conference semifinals.

"It irritates me and it's disappointing that it's hard for teams to give credit when they lose. It's always some external force," Van Gundy said. "If we had lost, I would hope my players would have handled themselves differently."