The Indiana Pacers finally clinched a playoff spot, leaving no doubt in their final game of the season against the Brooklyn Nets. The Pacers outscored Brooklyn 39-19 in the first quarter, leading 69-41 after two, and going up by as many as 42 in the third quarter. Indiana showed a high level of energy from the outset thanks in large part to George Hill, carrying that to the easy victory.
It was a strange game in many ways, especially in regards to the Nets offense. While they finished with more two point field goals by the end of the game, they spent a good part of tonight's action hitting more threes than twos, ending up with 14 on the night. The Pacers on the other hand, shot well from deep, going 11-27 in a night they shot 55.8% total, while holding Brooklyn to 38.5% overall, using that to outrebound the Nets by 22.
The energy of George Hill early set the pace for Indiana, with Hill scoring 18 points, pulling in five rebounds and dishing four assists on a night the Pacers assisted on 34 of their 48 field goals. Ty Lawson led the way in the assist category with nine, the third highest total for a Pacers player this season, scoring seven along the way. Ian Mahinmi and Paul George each reached double figures. Mahinmi scored 16 and George had 15, with George dishing six assists, but committing five turnovers.
Lawson got a bulk of his assists finding C.J. Miles and Myles Turner. Miles 11 points on three three pointers, but was limited with a right arm injury that did not prevent him from returning in the second half. Turner on the other hand had a monster game, taking advantage of the small Nets lineup, scoring 28 on 11-17 shooting, with 10 rebounds for a ouble double. Solomon Hill also had a solid night, coming up with a 13 point, 12 rebound double double of his own.
The Pacers clinch the playoffs for the fifth time in the last six years, returning after being absent last year, and clinching in impressive fashion. Indiana hasn't done a good job at all of taking care of business against lottery teams, but an impressive showing gives a false sense of hope at least for tonight. Indiana has won four of their last five, and despite the pitiful showing in Toronto, have trended in the right direction of late.
The Pacers move back into 7th with the win, sitting tied with Detroit at 43-37 while holding the tiebreaker. The Pacers will tip their penultimate regular season game against the New York Knicks on Tuesday, the same night the Pistons host Miami. Indiana's magic number to clinch the 7th seed now sits at 2, which puts them in control of their own destiny for who they may want to see in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs.