East Notes: Pacers, Bucks, Damian Lillard, Magic


The Pacers are moving on to the second round of the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2014, courtesy of their 120-98 blowout home win against the Bucks.

Interestingly, reserve forward Obi Toppin and reserve guard T.J. McConnell led the way, with 21 and 20 points, respectively. McConnell also passed for nine assists.

“It means a lot,” McConnell told NBA reporters. “Not getting into the playoffs since the bubble, not being able to advance since 2014, we take great pride in being able to advance and extend our season. Milwaukee has a great team and, if I can be honest with you, I think our bench has taken a couple steps back competitive-wise and I think tonight all of us went out there with the mentality we’re going to take it to another level.”

  • The win came exactly 30 years after the Pacers won their first playoff series, a 3-0 sweep of the Magic in 1994.
  • Pascal Siakam added 19 points and Tyrese Haliburton had 17 points, 10 assists and six rebounds. “The games we won, we dictated the pace,” Haliburton said. “So we knew we were going to have to come out and be aggressive.”
  • Bucks coach Doc Rivers offered the Pacers plenty of credit. “They’ve created a hell of a team, not only young, I think the Siakam trade really will change their fortunes going forward,” he said. “They’re just a tough team. Obviously, we had guys out and all that, and that’s hard, right? But let’s give them credit. I thought they played terrific.”


Damian Lillard returned but Giannis Antetokounmpo remained sidelined, and the Bucks’ uneven season came to an end — for the second straight year, in the first round of the playoffs.

Unlike previous wins, Khris Middleton couldn’t carry Milwaukee, finishing with 14 points on 6-of-15 shooting. He exited the loss to Indiana with about 5 minutes left.

“Ankles are sore, but everybody’s going through something in the playoffs,” Middleton told reporters, via Ben Steele of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “If you can play, if you can play through it, got to go out there and play. No excuses about it.

“Just tonight, didn’t have it. As a team, they came out and set the tone to be extra physical. Push the pace as much as they could, like they were trying to do all series. They were able to execute their game plan. We couldn’t as much.”

  • Lillard returned from a sore Achilles, indicating that he felt he needed to give it a go in a closeout game. “I don’t think I would have slept well and I don’t think I would have gone into the summer well, if I didn’t at least try,” Lillard said. “I came in for my pregame workout and saw all the gold shirts on the chairs and started moving around and said, ‘Let’s just do it.’”
  • The Bucks are running out of time to fix their aging roster before Antetokounmpo gets “antsy” again, wrote Sam Quinn of CBS Sports.


The Magic feel as if they let one get away in their Game 5 loss to the Cavaliers, a 104-103 defeat. They’re now one loss away from elimination.

“It sucks. We were right there,” All-Star big man Paolo Banchero said, via Josh Robbins of The Athletic. “But we can’t dwell on it. You’ve got to just look at what we could do better, what we didn’t do as well and then come out on Friday and be ready to go, because we’re not ready to go home (for the offseason).”

  • Forward Franz Wagner said the fact the Cavs were missing starting center Jarrett Allen played a little bit of a role. “A completely different game,” Wagner said. “They just played with one big. They have more shooting and (are) a little smaller, obviously, so I think it changes how they play and how we have to defend them.”
  • Center Wendell Carter Jr. thinks the Magic can win two straight to advance. “I’m riding with this team no matter who it is in front of us,” he said. “I believe that we can beat any team in this league, so I’m riding with my guys. I feel like we can win two in a row, for sure. It won’t be easy, but I think we can do it.”

More NBA | Heat’s Butler expected to seek two-year max extension

Looking for the latest NBA Insider News & Rumors?

Be sure to follow Hoops Wire on TWITTER and FACEBOOK for breaking NBA News and Rumors for all 30 teams!

Leave a Reply