Final

Indiana wins series 4-3 (Game 7 of 7)

Indiana wins series 4-3

Game 1: Saturday, April 23rd
Pacers82Final
Celtics102
Game 2: Monday, April 25th
Pacers82Final
Celtics79
Game 3: Thursday, April 28th
Celtics76Final
Pacers99
Game 4: Saturday, April 30th
Celtics110Final
Pacers79
Game 5: Tuesday, May 3rd
Pacers90Final
Celtics85
Game 6: Thursday, May 5th
Celtics92Final
OT
Pacers89
Game 7: Saturday, May 7th
Pacers97Final
Celtics70

Pacers 97

(44-38, 19-22 away)

Celtics 70

(45-37, 27-14 home)

7:00 PM ET, May 7, 2005

TD Garden, Boston, MA

1 2 3 4 T
IND 22 13 29 3397
BOS 20 12 18 2070

Top Performers

Ind: S. Jackson 24 Pts, 2 Reb, 4 Ast, 5 Stl, 1 Blk

Bos: P. Pierce 19 Pts, 7 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Slower pace works to Indy's advantage

BOSTON (AP) -- Jermaine O'Neal broke into a smile when asked about returning to the scene of the ugly brawl that nearly ruined the Indiana Pacers' season.

"It's only right," he said. "It's what I wanted. I wanted to see that team, and I'm pretty sure Detroit is wanting to see us, too."

He got his wish Saturday night when the Pacers beat the Boston Celtics 97-70 in the deciding game of their first-round series and advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Pistons. They did it with the slow pace they prefer, keeping alive the 18-year career of Reggie Miller.

The Game 7 rout was so complete that Boston coach Doc Rivers began clearing his bench with 4:32 left. And Larry Bird, the former Celtics great and now the Pacers president of basketball operations, left his seat behind the Indiana bench with 3:31 to go.

"I don't know if the leprechauns took the day off," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "All I know is we had No. 33 sitting on our side of the building. I've got to believe that makes a little difference when you're here for a Game 7."

Now the team that has overcome suspensions, injuries and disharmony moves on to a meeting with its biggest rival beginning Monday night.

It'll be a rematch between teams that took part in a melee that spilled into the stands during an early-season game at The Palace in Auburn Hills, leading to the season-long suspension of Ron Artest.

"Everything we've been through this year was nothing but fuel for us," Stephen Jackson said. "It makes us want to win more and play harder."

The Celtics played very poorly in a big game, missing easy shots and allowing Indiana to take uncontested ones, and had the second-lowest point total in their playoff history. They also lost three home games for the first time in a seven-game series.

"In Game 7, for us to go out and play the way we did is disappointing," Boston's Paul Pierce said. "No one wants to end the season getting blown out."

Miller, who plans to end his 18-year career after this season, took just five shots and scored five points. But Miller didn't have to do much with Jackson scoring 24 points, Fred Jones 16 and O'Neal 15.

"I've had a great career, regardless of what happened tonight," Miller said. "These guys need to win it for themselves. I'm just glad I had the chance to play with them."

The Celtics were led by Antoine Walker with 20 points and Pierce with 19, but both were out of the game with 4:20 left and Indiana ahead 86-62.

"They kept playing and we stopped to take a look" in the second half, Rivers said. "We hung our heads way too early in the game."

Indiana turned a close game into a rout midway through the third quarter with an 11-2 run that made the score 54-43 with 3:46 left.

Indiana was ahead 59-48 before scoring five of the last seven points of the quarter, three by O'Neal, and led 64-50 going into the final period.

Any realistic chance for the Celtics disappeared in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter as the Pacers opened with a 12-5 spurt for a 76-55 lead. Backup guard Jones started it with two 3-pointers and ended it with a dunk with 7:36 to play.

"We turned the ball over way too much tonight," Walker said.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Pacers took their victory in stride -- shaking hands with Celtics players while Rivers and Carlisle did the same.

But the Celtics had trouble keeping their composure again, drawing six technical fouls, and Perkins and Justin Reed were ejected in the final minute for a scuffle with Pacers guard Eddie Gill. In Game 3, Walker grabbed referee Tom Washington and was suspended for a game. In Game 6, Pierce was ejected when he elbowed Jamaal Tinsley.

Miller has spent his entire career with the Pacers, has hit the most 3-pointers and is the 12th leading scorer in NBA history. He also was chosen for five All-Star games and led the NBA in free-throw accuracy this season for the fifth time.

But his chances of going out as a champion plummeted on Nov. 19 when several Pacers got into a brawl with fans in Detroit, leading to suspensions that included Jackson for 30 games and O'Neal for 15.

Then there were the injuries.

Miller missed the first 15 games with a broken left hand, O'Neal sat out 22 straight with a sprained right shoulder before returning for the last three regular-season games and the playoffs, and Tinsley missed 33 straight, including the first four of the playoffs.

The Celtics overcame their own difficulties in the regular season. They were just 27-28 when Walker returned in a trade with Atlanta, rejoining the team he spent seven seasons with before they traded him to Dallas before the 2003-04 season.

They went 18-9 after that and gained homecourt advantage in the playoffs.

Game notes


Jackson fell and clutched his left knee with 3.5 seconds left in the first quarter, went to the bench and returned midway through the second quarter. ... New England Patriots in the stands included Deion Branch, David Givens, Daniel Graham and Doug Flutie. ... David Ortiz, David Wells and Keith Foulke also were there after the Boston Red Sox's night game against Seattle was postponed by rain. ... The playoff loss was the Celtics biggest Charlotte beat them 119-89 on May 3, 1993.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
IND
BOS
Points 97 70
FGM-FGA 32-69 (.464) 27-73 (.370)
3PM-3PA 10-17 (.588) 4-18 (.222)
FTM-FTA 23-30 (.767) 12-16 (.750)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-40 10-33
Assists 23 14
Turnovers 13 14
Steals 11 8
Blocks 9 9
Fast Break Points 8 8
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (2/0) 18 (6/0)
Largest Lead 29 3

Top Performers

Indiana
Boston
Stephen Jackson Jackson
Points: 24
Reb: 2
Ast: 4
Stl: 5
Blk: 1
Paul Pierce Pierce
Points: 19
Reb: 7
Ast: 3
Stl: 1
Blk: 1