by Conrad Brunner
August 24, 2004
As a rookie, George McGinnis was good. In his second season, he was great. Ultimately, that proved the difference as the 1972-73 team knocked off the 1971-72 team in six games to advance to the ABA bracket final of the Pacers Great Teams Tournament.
McGinnis averaged 16.9 points during his rookie season of 1971-72, and that average jumped to 27.9 the following year. In the Great Teams Tournament, he averaged 29.7 points, scoring at least 31 in five of the six games, to lead the 1972-73 Pacers to victory in a matchup of teams that won consecutive ABA titles. Mel Daniels averaged 21.8 in the series, followed by Freddie Lewis (16.7), Donnie Freeman (14.0), Roger Brown (13.0), Billy Keller (11.5) and Darnell Hillman (10.5).
For the 1971-72 team, Daniels (19.7) was the leading scorer in the series, followed by Brown (17.2), McGinnis (17.0), Bob Netolicky (15.3), Lewis (13.2), Rick Mount (12.3) and Keller (10.5).
Game 1: 1972-73 wins, 126-109: McGinnis (32), Daniels (23) and Lewis (20) led the winners to a rout, with Brown (15), Freeman (13), Hillman (11) and Keller (10) also scoring in double figures. McGinnis scored 20 for the third-seeded 1971-72 team but no teammate scored more than 16.
Game 2: 1972-73 wins, 131-108: Freeman joined the offensive party for the winners, scoring 21 to supplement McGinnis' 33 and Daniels' 21. Lewis and Hillman scored 15 apiece. The leading 1971-72 scorer was Brown with 19, while Daniels added 16.
Game 3: 1971-72 wins, 113-111: With Daniels erupting for 29 and Brown and Netolicky adding 17 apiece, the underdogs pulled out a close victory to cut the series deficit to 2-1. McGinnis scored 16 and Mount 11 for the winners. McGinnis scored 32 for the 1972-73 team, with Daniels (18) and Lewis (17) also chipping in solid games.
Game 4: 1972-73 wins, 116-113: Another hard-fought close game left the second-seeded '72-73 team with a 3-1 series advantage. McGinnis (32), Daniels (20) and Brown (17) led the offense for the winners. The '71-72 effort was topped by McGinnis and Netolicky with 19 apiece, while Daniels scored 17.
Game 5: 1971-72 wins, 123-107: Staying alive with a strong, balanced offensive performance the '71-72 team had four players score at least 19 points, led by Brown's 21. Daniels, McGinnis and Netolicky all scored 19. Lewis had 16, while Mount and Keller contributed 12 each. McGinnis had his worst game of the series for the '72-73 team, scoring just 18. Daniels led the team in scoring with 26, followed by Lewis with 19.
Game 6: 1972-73 wins, 124-108: With McGinnis (31 points) back on track, the '72-73 team closed out the series with a convincing victory. Daniels added 23, while Lewis and Brown had 16 each. Keller added 13, Freeman 12 and Hillman 11. The '71-72 team was led by Daniels with 21, Lewis with 18 and Brown with 16.
Wednesday: The Pacers' first ABA championship team (1969-70) collides with the last (1972-73) in a clash of titans that will determine the ABA bracket titlist.