Rare opportunity awaits Pacers
A rare opportunity awaits the Pacers when they play New York at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Saturday night – an opportunity their fans have witnessed just twice in the 37 seasons they’ve been playing in the NBA.
The only times the Pacers have closed out a series with a homecourt victory after the opening round of the playoffs occurred in 1998, when they eliminated New York in Game 5 of the second round, and in 1994, when they defeated Atlanta in the second round. Now, they have a chance to repeat the feat with a Game 6 victory over the Knicks. There’s no downside for them this time. If they lose, the series goes back to New York on Monday.
It’s rather bizarre, the Pacers’ fixation with doing their best postseason work on the road. Thumbing a collective nose at homecourt advantage, they have closed out a series with a road victory 10 times. They have done so with a homecourt win only five times, and four of those were in the first round. Meanwhile, they have lost the last game of a series on their home court nine times.
It’s a tradition with roots in the ABA, where the Pacers won all three of their championships on the road.
Serious Pacers fans would have a difficult time recalling many highlights from playoff series that were clinched at home. Mark Jackson produced a triple-double to close out the Knicks in 1998. Travis Best hit a three-pointer from the left corner to lead the elimination of Milwaukee in 2000. But that turned out to be the last time the Pacers closed out an opponent at home until last season, when they beat Orlando in Game 5 of a first-round series.
George Hill or not, the Pacers have a chance to make a lasting impact on Saturday by winning a second-round series on their home court. If they lose, they have another shot at the Knicks back in New York. If they win, fans will celebrate wildly. Many of them, however, won’t understand just how rare of a sight they just witnessed.
Here’s a rundown of what happened when an NBA playoff series ended on the Pacers’ home court.
1981: Lost to Philadelphia in Game 2 of a best-of-three series.
1987: Lost to Atlanta in Game 4 of a best-of-five series.
1990: Lost to Detroit in the third game of a best-of-five series.
1992: Lost to Boston in the third game of a best-of-five series.
1993: Lost to New York in the fourth game of a best-of-five series.
1994: Beat Orlando in the third game of a best-of-five series.
1994: Beat Atlanta in the sixth game of a best-of-seven series.
1996: Lost to Atlanta in the fifth game of a best-of-five series.
1998: Beat New York in the fifth game of a best-of-seven series.
2000: Beat Milwaukee in the fifth game of a best-of-five series.
2001: Lost to Philadelphia in the fourth game of a best-of-five series.
2005: Lost to Detroit in the sixth game of a best-of-seven series.
2006: Lost to New Jersey in the sixth game of a best-of-seven series.
2012: Beat Orlando in the fifth game of a best-of-seven series.