Memorable Pacers Playoff Moments

Playoff Memories

Time stands still as Reggie Miller releases his game-tying, 39-foot, 3-pointer in Game 5 of the 2002 first-round series against the top-seeded New Jersey Nets. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)

Significant Moments in the Pacers' Postseason History

ABA Years


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  • March 25, 1968

    The Pacers make their first playoff appearance in ABA’s inaugural season. But Indiana is swept from the playoffs by the Pittsburgh Pipers, 3-0. Connie Hawkins leads the Pipers with 29.3 points and 15 rebounds per game. Unheralded guard Freddie Lewis leads the Pacers with 23.3 points per game.

    April 9, 1969

    The Pacers even an Eastern Conference first-round series at 1-1 with a 125-115 victory over Kentucky at the Fairgrounds Coliseum, giving Indiana its first playoff win. After 38 points in a losing effort in Game 1, Brwon scores 35 to lead the way in Game 2. This game proves to be the starting point for the Pacers' ABA success that would follow as well as an acrimonious I-65 rivalry with the Kentucky Colonels. A bench-clearing brawl in Game 2 notches technical fouls for Indiana's George Peeples and Kentucky's Jim Caldwell. There are no ejections, however, and the series continues for a raucous seven games.

    April 17, 1969

    The Pacers dispatch the Colonels 120-111 in Game 7 at Fairgrounds Coliseum to win their first playoff series, rallying from a 3-1 deficit to advance. Netolicky leads the way with 32 points and 16 rebounds in Game 7.

    May 2, 1969

    Bob “Slick” Leonard takes over as head coach just a couple of weeks into the season and guides the Pacers to the ABA Finals and their first playoff victory. The Oaks win the ABA Championship series 3-1, but the Pacers' lone win comes in emphatic fashion, setting a team playoff record that still stands for points scored in the 150-122 victory. Three Pacers – Bob Netolicky (36), Roger Brown (39) and Lewis (35) – break the 30-point mark in the win.

    May 19, 1970

    In Game 4 of the ABA Finals against the Los Angeles Stars, Brown scores an ABA Playoff record 53 points, hitting seven 3-pointers along the way to lead Indiana to a 142-120 victory in Los Angeles and a 3-1 series lead. The series returns to the L.A. Sports Arena on May 25, and so does Brown. His 45 points in Game 6 leads the Pacers to the first of three ABA Championships with a 111-107 victory. Indiana wins the series 4-2.

    May 20, 1972

    After shifting to the ABA’s Western Division in 1970-71, the Pacers return to the ABA Finals against the New York Nets and take the series 4-2 for their second ABA Championship in three years. Brown returns to center stage with 35 points in Game 6, a 108-105 Pacers title-clinching victory.

    May 12, 1973

    In front of 16,597 at Louisville’s Freedom Hall, the Pacers defeat Kentucky 88-81 in a low-scoring game by ABA standards to win their third and final ABA Championship. After playing a total of five minutes in the previous two games, veteran Gus Johnson, a 6-6 forward known for his tough defense against bigger opponents, is called upon to guard 7-2 Artis Gilmore after Darnell Hillman and Mel Daniels get into foul trouble. Johnson’s courageous effort for 13 minutes on aging knees is key in the victory.

    April 14, 1975

    George McGinnis scores 51 points and grabs 17 rebounds in a Game 5 loss at San Antonio in the Western Conference semifinals. Indiana goes on to win the series 4-2 behind McGinnis, who scored 42 points with 24 rebounds in Game 4 and 40 points with 14 rebounds in deciding Game 6. In the series, San Antonio’s George Gervin averages 34 points and 14.3 rebounds, while McGinnis averages 37.5 points and 17.2 rebounds. It is the first of two engaging series for Indiana, which edges Denver 4-3 in a back-and-forth Western Conference Finals series before losing to old rival Kentucky 4-1 in the ABA Finals. McGinnis averages 32.0 points and 14.1 rebounds in the playoffs.

    April 12, 1976

    Somewhat fittingly, the Pacers and Colonels meet in the opening round of the playoffs with Kentucky winning the series 2-1. Indiana loses its final ABA game 100-99. Billy Knight, who had scored 43 points in a Game 1 loss, scores 30 on 12 of 19 shooting and guard Mike Flynn comes off the bench for 20 points, including 3 of 4 3-pointers, in the losing cause.

    NBA Years


    The Pacers go 44-38 in the regular season – their first winning record in the NBA – and make their first NBA Playoff appearance, but are swept in the opening round 2-0 by the powerful Philadelphia 76ers. This is the first of only three playoff appearances the Pacers would make in the 1980s.

    April 29, 1987
    The Pacers get their first NBA Playoff win, 96-87 over Atlanta at Market Square Arena. The Hawks, who held a 2-0 lead when the Pacers got their only win in the series, end the opening-round series two days later.

    April 28, 1994

    Byron Scott's jumper, the shot that started it all, completes a comeback from a 17-point deficit to beat heavily favored Orlando in Game 1 of a first-round series. With Reggie Miller triple-teamed 28 feet from the basket, he finds an open Scott on the right wing. Scott sinks an open 3-pointer to give the Pacers an 89-88 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. The Magic never recovered and the Pacers win their first NBA playoff series, sweeping the Magic 3-0.

    June 1, 1994

    Miller scores 25 points in the fourth quarter against the Knicks in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. A legend is born as Miller erupts for 19 points, including five 3-pointers, in a 23-3 fourth-quarter run. The Pacers win 93-86.

    May 7, 1995

    Miller scores eight points in the final 8.9 seconds to deliver a stunning 107-105 victory over the Knicks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Miller’s late-game heroics sealed his reputation as the quintessential Knick-killer and etched his own niche in Pacers and NBA lore. The outburst included a steal and a pair of 3-pointers that came directly in front of Knicks super fan and movie director Spike Lee, one of Miller’s most vocal antagonists at Madison Square Garden. Miller’s heroics overshadowed a 34-point performance by Rik Smits.

    May 29, 1995

    Smits' last second jumper - dubbed the "Memorial Day Miracle" - beats the Magic 94-93 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, evening the series at 2-2. There were three consecutive 3-pointers scored in the final 13 seconds, prior to Smits' game-winner over Tree Rollins.

    May 25, 1998

    The Pacers return to the Eastern Conference Finals for the third time in five years – this time against the dynastic Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan. That just meant more playoff heroics for Miller, who shook off the effects of an ankle injury to hit the game-winner over Jordan with seven-tenths of a second to play. Trailing 94-93, Miller ran off a series of screens and broke free for an inbounds pass from Derrick McKey. He turned and fired in, burying the game-winner at Market Square Arena and tying the series at 2-2.

    June 5, 1999

    A date that lives in Pacers’ infamy: New York’s Larry Johnson completes a four-point play after a foul and questionable continuation call from beyond the arc at Madison Square Garden. The call furthers the cause of Indiana small-market conspiracy theorists, while the play lifts the Knicks to a 92-91 win and a 2-1 series advantage in the Eastern Conference Finals. New York takes the momentum and goes on to win the series 4-2.

    May 4, 2000

    Miller scores 41 points, but Travis Best plays the hero, hitting a 3-pointer from the corner with 16.5 seconds remaining to give Indiana a 96-95 win and a 3-2 series victory over upset-minded Milwaukee in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs.

    May 6, 2000

    Jalen Rose and Miller score 40 points each to lead Indiana to a 108-91 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Pacers take a 3-0 lead and go on to win the series 4-2, despite missing Miller for one game due to suspension after a fight erupted in a physical Game 4.

    June 2, 2000

    The Pacers beat the Knicks 93-80 at Madison Square Garden to squash old demons, take the series 4-2, win their first Eastern Conference Championship and advance to the NBA Finals. Knicks nemesis Miller seals the deal at the Garden with a flourish, scoring 34 points with 17 coming in the fourth quarter.

    June 16, 2000

    Hope stays alive with a convincing 120-87 Pacers victory over the Lakers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Rose (32 points) and Miller (25 points) put on a shooting clinic. The win cuts the Lakers’ lead in the series to 3-2, but the series shifts back to L.A. and the Lakers win the NBA Championship, 4-2 behind a 116-111 victory at STAPLES Center.

    April 21, 2001

    Miller’s 3-pointer from the left wing with 2.9 seconds left stunned the 76ers, giving the eighth-seeded Pacers a 79-78 road victory against the top-seeded Philadelphia in Game 1 of their first-round series. Miller drained the 3-pointer despite a poor shooting performance in which he hit 4 of his first 20 field goal attempts and finished 5 of 21 for the game.

    May 2, 2002

    Miller adds another chapter to his playoff memoirs, despite a losing cause in a classic double-overtime Game 5 at New Jersey. Miller hit a 39-footer to force overtime and then broke free for a game-tying dunk to force a second overtime in the 120-109 loss to the Nets. Miller’s 31 points included six 3-pointers.

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