NBA In-Season Thrills: Pacers and Pelicans Secure Semifinal Spots
The Pelicans overcame a first-quarter deficit to defeat the Sacramento Kings 127-117, while the Pacers staged a stunning late comeback to defeat the Boston Celtics 122-112.
Rick Carlisle’s Pacers, who led East Group A with four victories out of four in the group stage, faced the Celtics, who had a 55-48 lead at the break, and they had their work cut out for them in the second half.
However, Tyrese Haliburton’s outstanding play—which included his first career triple-double—led the Indiana team to a remarkable comeback in the third and fourth quarters.
Illness prompted the 23-year-old to miss the Pacers’ victory over the Miami Heat over the weekend, but he still finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds, and 13 assists as the team pulled off a huge upset.
While Jayson Tatum led the way for the Celtics with 32 points and 12 rebounds, along with 30 points from Jaylen Brown, Buddy Hield also scored 21 points for the winning team. However, their efforts were in vain.
Because of their spectacular exploits at Golden 1 Center, the Pacers will now compete for a berth in the final against the Milwaukee Bucks or New York Knicks, where they may have to pit their cunning against the Pelicans.
The Pelicans had a record of three wins and one loss going into the elimination stage, while the Kings had a perfect 4-0 record from their West Group. However, the New Orleans team had the psychological advantage because they had already defeated their hosts twice this season.
After the first quarter, Willie Green’s team needed to catch up, and they did so with style. Brandon Ingram scored 30 points, and Jonas Valanciunas recorded a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
“The biggest thing I saw in that game was trust,” Green said, focusing especially on the “trust” he saw among his teammates in a post-match press conference that ESPN cited.
“Our players just stayed together, remained unified in the huddle, and kept making the correct play time and time again. A club that has just 14 turnovers and 29 assists is one that you can continue to have faith in. We wish to keep expanding upon that.”
The Pelicans’ victory was marred by the death of a fan who experienced a medical emergency during the game. The Pelicans will play either the Los Angeles Lakers or the Phoenix Suns in the final four.