Pacers celebrate 1st playoff series victory in a decade, beating Bucks 120-98 in Game 6


INDIANAPOLIS — Obi Toppin scored 21 points, T.J. McConnell had 20 points and nine assists and the Indiana Pacers won a playoff series for the first time in a decade, beating the Milwaukee Bucks 120-98 in Game 6 on Thursday night.

The Pacers will face the winner of the Philadelphia-New York series in the Eastern Conference semifinals. New York took a 3-2 lead into Game 6 later Thursday.

Indiana’s milestone victory came exactly 30 years after it swept Orlando 3-0 to advance in the NBA playoffs for the first time in franchise history, and it came on a night the Bucks again were without Giannis Antetokounmpo. The two-time league MVP never played after straining his left calf April 9.

Damian Lillard, meanwhile, returned from a right Achilles injury and played well — but was not nearly as dominant as he was in the first two games when he scored 69 points. Lillard finished with 28 points on 7-of-16 shooting.

Bobby Portis Jr. added 20 points and 15 rebounds for Milwaukee. Brook Lopez also had 20 points, and Khris Middleton had 14 points and eight rebounds.

Two-time All-Star Tyrese Haliburton had 17 points, 10 assists and six rebounds for Indiana, and Pascal Siakam finished with 19 points and seven rebounds. Toppin and McConnell each had playoff career-high scoring totals, and McConnell also had four steals.

Indiana went 8-3 against the Bucks this season and handed Milwaukee its second straight first-round exit.

Easy? Not a chance. Indiana turned the game with a 23-3 first-quarter spurt that made it 29-19 and the Pacers never trailed again.

But every time the Bucks charged back the Pacers had an answer.

When Milwaukee cut it to 38-34 early in the second quarter, Indiana scored seven straight points. When the Bucks opened the second half on a 9-4 run to close to 63-56, Indiana responded with a 10-5 run to extend the margin to 12. When Milwaukee got to 85-78 with 6:05 left in the third, McConnell capped an 11-0 run with back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 96-78 early in the fourth.

And the Bucks never recovered as the Pacers extended the lead to 104-84 with 8:07 to play. From that point, it was a festive atmosphere at Gainbridge Fieldhouse with Pacers players being serenaded off the court to a standing ovation.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA



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