McConnell, Toppin Propel Pacers To Semifinals With Victory Over Bucks

TJ McConnell, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA News
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

T.J. McConnell and Obi Toppin led the Indiana Pacers to a commanding 120-98 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks during Thursday’s NBA playoff action, catapulting the team into the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time in a decade.

McConnell notched a playoff career-high 20 points, nine assists, and four steals, rebounding from a less-than-stellar performance in Game 5.

“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,” McConnell said. “Milwaukee has a great team and, if I can be honest with you, I think our bench has taken a couple of steps back competitively, and I think tonight all of us went out there with the mentality we’re going to take it to another level.”

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: TJ McConnell, Obi Toppin, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks Updates

Toppin contributed 21 points, helping to solidify the win. The pair celebrated their performance with enthusiastic fist bumps long after the final buzzer.

“T.J. actually helped me today, told me to be aggressive, told me to be myself,” Toppin said. “Everybody did their jobs today, from the starters to the bench, everybody had a good game.”

The Pacers set the tone early with a 23-3 run in the first quarter, establishing a lead they never relinquished. Indiana responded decisively each time the Bucks mounted a comeback, maintaining control throughout the game.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: TJ McConnell, Obi Toppin, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks Updates

The Bucks were handicapped by the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo, sidelined since April 9 with a calf strain. Despite his absence, Damian Lillard returned from a strained Achilles tendon to score 28 points, though his effort was not enough to sway the game’s outcome. Bobby Portis Jr. and Brook Lopez each contributed 20 points for Milwaukee.

Tyrese Haliburton and Pascal Siakam were also instrumental, with Haliburton posting 17 points and 10 assists and Siakam adding 19 points and seven rebounds. When reflecting on how the Pacers can build on this victory, Haliburton emphasized the need to push the pace.

“The games we won, we dictated the pace,” Haliburton said. “So we knew we would have to come out and be aggressive.”

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: TJ McConnell, Obi Toppin, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks Updates

The Pacers now advance to face the New York Knicks, who eliminated the Philadelphia 76ers 118-115 in their series finale.

As Indiana prepares for the semifinals, they do so bolstered by a series win that tested their resilience and demonstrated their capability to perform under pressure.

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