NBA Playoffs roundup: Knicks, Pacers through to Eastern Conference semifinal

By virtue of 4-2 win, the the New York Knicks will move on to face the sixth-seeded Indiana Pacers in an Eastern Conference best-of-seven semifinal series

Published : May 03, 2024 11:54 IST - 5 MINS READ

New York Knicks’ Jalen Brunson reacts after winning Game 6 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers.
New York Knicks’ Jalen Brunson reacts after winning Game 6 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers. | Photo Credit: AP

New York Knicks’ Jalen Brunson reacts after winning Game 6 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers. | Photo Credit: AP

Jalen Brunson poured in a game-high 41 points, Josh Hart broke a late tie with a 3-pointer and the New York Knicks eliminated the Philadelphia 76ers from the NBA playoffs with a 118-115 victory in Game 6 of their best-of-seven series on Thursday.

By virtue of their 4-2 win, the second-seeded Knicks will move on to face the sixth-seeded Indiana Pacers in an Eastern Conference best-of-seven semifinal series. Game 1 is set for Monday in New York.

Seeking a second win in three visits to Philadelphia during the series, the Knicks led 107-99 with 3:26 to play before the desperate 76ers rallied into a 111-all tie on a three-point play by Tyrese Maxey that included a goal-tending call on Isaiah Hartenstein with 34.9 seconds to go.

The Knicks then went to Brunson, who drew the defense and found Hart open for a straightaway 3-pointer that put the visitors ahead for good at 114-111 with 25.6 seconds left.

“I give both teams a lot of credit for how they fought and how they played,” Sixers coach Nick Nurse said. “I give them a lot of credit for hitting a big (3-pointer). The series could have went the exact opposite than it did, but it didn’t, so congratulations to them for finishing on a positive side.”

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Donte DiVincenzo and Brunson capped the victory by sinking two free throws each, Brunson’s successes coming with 7.7 seconds remaining and leaving the 76ers only an opportunity for a Buddy Hield buzzer-beating heave that hit only the backboard.

“We knew this wasn’t going to be easy, even with the lead that we had,” Brunson told TNT after the game. “We tried to play with the lead, but we knew they were going to keep fighting.

“Every game has been like this. It’s not how you start, it just matters how you finish it.”

Brunson shot 13-for-27 from the field and 12-for-16 at the free-throw line. It was his third straight 40-plus-point effort, and he added a game-high 12 assists.

Hart finished with 16 points and a game-high 14 rebounds, while DiVincenzo totaled 23 points, OG Anunoby 19 and Hartenstein 14.

Joel Embiid paced the 76ers with 39 points and a team-high 13 rebounds before fouling out in the final seconds. He made 12 of his 25 shots and all 13 of his free-throw attempts.

“I thought he was tremendous tonight,” Nurse said. “He had a lot of things going on. He fought through a lot of adversity.”

Hield buried six 3-pointers on a 20-point night off the bench, while Maxey, who had a team-high five assists, and Kelly Oubre Jr. added 17 points apiece. Nicolas Batum scored 16 points.

Down by 22 points less than 10 minutes into the game, the 76ers turned the tables in the second quarter to pull ahead 54-51 by halftime.

Former Sacramento Kings teammates DiVincenzo and Hield played big roles in each team’s run. DiVincenzo hit three 3-pointers in New York’s 33-11 opening flurry before Hield responded by nailing five threes and putting up 17 points in Philadelphia’s 32-15, second-quarter comeback.

A tight fourth quarter featured three lead changes and four ties, the last one at 111-all.

Bench helps Pacers eliminate Bucks in Game 6

Obi Toppin scored 21 points and T.J. McConnell added 20 as the Indiana Pacers eliminated the Milwaukee Bucks with a 120-98 victory on Thursday in Game 6 of an Eastern Conference first-round series in Indianapolis.

Toppin contributed eight rebounds and McConnell had nine assists as the sixth-seeded Pacers enjoyed a decisive 50-10 edge in bench points to record a 4-2 win in the best-of-seven series.

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“Our bench has been great all season long, appreciate this guy (McConnell) for that,” Toppin said. “... Everybody on our team knows their job, and we just give 110 percent.”

Indiana advanced to the second round to face the second-seeded New York Knicks.

Pascal Siakam scored 19 points, Tyrese Haliburton collected 17 points and 10 assists and Aaron Nesmith had 15 points to send the Pacers to their first playoff series win since 2014.

“Lot of respect to Milwaukee’s team,” Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. “... To knock them out is difficult. It is really difficult. Congratulations to our guys. First time in 10 years our fans have had this kind of feeling.”

Indiana shot a robust 54.1 percent from the floor and held a 21-6 edge in fastbreak points to defeat Milwaukee for the fifth time in as many home games during the regular season and playoffs.

Milwaukee’s Damian Lillard scored 28 points in his return from a two-game absence caused by right Achilles tendinitis.

Brook Lopez scored 20 points and Bobby Portis added 20 to go along with 15 rebounds for the third-seeded Bucks, who made just 7 of 27 attempts (25.9 percent) from 3-point range.

Milwaukee played the entire series without two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who sustained a calf injury on April 9.

“Injuries are just part of it. I’ve had, personally, just a horrendous streak,” Milwaukee coach Doc Rivers said. “Joel (Embiid), all three years in Philadelphia, hurt. Last couple of years with the Clippers with Chris Paul and Blake (Griffin), hurt. I say this all the time, winning is incredibly hard. It takes 12-15 players turning themselves into one and buying in. Your staff being together as one. And then health -- and you still may not win.”

Lillard drained a 3-pointer to help Milwaukee bolt out to a 13-6 lead before Indiana scored 23 of the game’s next 29 points. The Pacers extended their advantage to 59-45 in the last minute of the first half when Toppin converted an alley-oop pass from Haliburton.

The Bucks trimmed the deficit to 85-78 with 1:05 left in the third quarter before Indiana answered by scoring the next 11 points. McConnell had a driving layup and two 3-pointers during that run.

Milwaukee pulled within 14 points before the Pacers countered with six in a row, capped by Ben Sheppard’s 3-pointer with 8:07 remaining in the fourth quarter. The outcome was not in doubt the rest of the way.

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