Pacers spoil Lillard's return, eliminate Bucks to advance to East semis

Published May 3, 2024, 10:00 AMPao Ambat

The Indiana Pacers advance to the East semifinals for the first time since 2014.

T. J. McConnell and Obi Toppin outscored the Bucks’ entire bench in a stunning Game 6 blowout.

The decade-long wait is finally over. 

Back in the Eastern Conference semifinals are the Indiana Pacers. 

T. J. McConnell and Obi Toppin went off and combined for 41 points off the bench, as the sixth-seeded Pacers sent the third-seeded Milwaukee Bucks packing in a 120-98 Game 6 blowout win.


Both Toppin and McConnell dropped playoff career-highs--21 for Obi and 20 for T.J, spoiling superstar Damian Lillard’s return with a dominating win and improved to 3-0 at home this playoffs.




With the Bucks closing in at 85-78 in the final moments of the third frame, the Pacers rode an 8-0 blitz in the final 58 seconds to make it 93-78, capped off by a McConnell triple.


Indiana never looked back and led by as many as 24 points in the final frame en route to their third double-digit win in the series.

The Pacers will face either the New York Knicks or the Philadelphia 76ers in the next round.

Pascal Siakam added 19 markers with Tyrese Haliburton chipping in a double-double of 17 points and 10 assists and Aaron Nesmith had 15.

Indiana clamped down on defense in probably the most important game of their season, holding the Bucks to a horrid 38 percent shooting beyond the arc and taking a 33-19 advantage in assists.

Meanwhile, Lillard, who returned after missing the past two games with an Achilles injury, topscored Milwaukee with 28 points and Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis each contributing 20.

The Bucks just couldn’t stop the Pacers in their backyard despite Lillard’s return.

For the second straight season, the Bucks failed to advance to the second round of the playoffs after going all-in last offseason by acquiring Lillard in exchange for champion guard Jrue Holiday.

Just before the All-Star break, Milwaukee fired Adrian Griffin despite having a 30-13 record and replaced him with champion coach Doc Rivers.

Superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was then sidelined since April 9 due to a strained left calf and never played in playoffs.