The Pacers Blew Out The Bucks To Earn Their First Playoff Series Win Since 2014

For the first time in a decade, the Indiana Pacers have won a playoff series. Indiana hosted the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 of their first-round tilt on Thursday night, and thanks to a pair of unexpected heroes off the bench, the Pacers were able to pick up a 120-98 win to secure a spot in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Milwaukee looked like it was locked in and buoyed by the return of Damian Lillard at the very start of the game, as they were able to race out to a 10-3 lead that temporarily silenced the crowd at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. But over the rest of the period, the play of Tyrese Haliburton and Obi Toppin — along with a lengthy run that at one point featured 10 unanswered points — helped get them take control of the game.

The pair combined for 19 of Indiana’s 33 points in the frame, and while they weren’t quite as scorching hot in the second quarter, the Pacers were still able to build out their lead over their division rivals. While Indiana wasn’t able to get hot from behind the three-point line, their ability to get out and run, in particular, was a huge issue for Milwaukee — the Pacers outscored them on transition points, 14-2, and were plus-10 on points in the paint.

Add in the fact that Indiana’s bench throttled Milwaukee’s bench by a 19-1 margin, and everything seemed to break the Pacers’ way. The team took a 59-47 lead into the locker room at halftime, with Haliburton’s 15 points, five rebounds, and four assists leading the way. Aaron Nesmith had 12, while Toppin put up 11. While Milwaukee got a combined 28 points from Lillard and Brook Lopez — each of them had 14 — they only went 16-for-45 from the field and 2-for-13 from three, so their offense really struggled to keep up.

Things started to get heated in the third quarter, as Bobby Portis and James Johnson picked up technical fouls due to some jawing during a timeout.

But, ultimately, the Pacers were able to do enough to extend their cushion at the end of the frame. While the Bucks were able to get the lead down to seven points after a Lopez layup with 1:05 left, Indiana ripped off eight straight points at the end of the frame to give them a 93-78 lead heading into the fourth.

The crowd was beyond amped for the start of the fourth quarter due to the play of an unlikely hero, T.J. McConnell, who scored seven of the team’s first 11 points and had the building absolutely losing its mind.

All of this ended up being too much for Milwaukee to overcome. The team was unable to get within 14 points at any point in the fourth, and more than two minutes left in the frame and the Pacers leading by 20, Doc Rivers made the decision to completely pull his starters. By the time the clock hit zero, the entire building was on its feet and celebrating the inevitable.

Toppin’s 21 points and eight rebounds off the bench led the way for Indiana, while McConnell went for 20 points, nine dimes, and four steals. Among the Pacers’ starters, Pascal Siakam’s 19 points were the most, while Haliburton had a 17-point, 10-assist double-double. For Milwaukee, Lillard had 28 points, while both Lopez and Portis went for 20.

While the Bucks (which did not have Giannis Antetokounmpo all series due to injury) enter an offseason where they will have a number of questions to answer, the Pacers now get to watch Thursday’s game between the New York Knicks and the Philadelphia 76ers a little more closely, as they’ll play the winner of that series in the next round. The Knicks currently hold a 3-2 series lead, but Game 6 will take place in Philly.