Pacers Defeat Bucks by 22, Advance to Play Knicks

The Pacers may have laid an egg in Game 5, but they weren’t going to allow the series to go back to Milwaukee for a Game 7. Utilizing their high-tempo offense, the Pacers led by as many as 24 en route to a 120-98 victory to eliminate the shorthanded Bucks.

“It means a lot,” T.J. McConnell said. “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.”

McConnell and Obi Toppin were incredible off the bench for Indiana. McConnell connected on 7-of-9 shots and finished with 20 points and nine assists, while Toppin poured in 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds — Indiana’s bench outscored Milwaukee’s 50-10.

Milwaukee saw Damian Lillard return to the court after missing Games 4 and 5 with an Achilles injury, but Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t recover in time to take part in the final game of the season. Lillard led the Bucks with 28 points.

“It’s definitely disappointing because you know how much better of a team we are when he’s (Giannis) on the floor and how much things change when he’s on the floor,” Lillard said. “You play an entire 82-game season. You go through training camp, you go through all the ups and downs of a NBA regular season, and you get to the point where, all right, now we’re going to play for everything. And you’re not whole. You don’t have the best opportunity to reach where you want reach. So it is frustrating, it’s disappointing, but it’s part of the game.”

Indiana will open its second-round series with the New York Knicks Monday night at Madison Square Garden.