Paul George finished with 32 points and 11 rebounds, Jeff Teague added 19 points and the Indiana Pacers clinched a playoff spot Wednesday with a 104-86 victory over Atlanta.
The Pacers completed the regular season on a five-game winning streak to earn the Eastern Conference’s No. 7 seed. They will face Cleveland in the opening round.
Ersan Ilyasova scored 15 points and Jose Calderon had 12 on a night the Hawks rested five of their top six players. Thabo Sefolosha played 23 minutes but didn’t score as Atlanta saw its four-game winning streak end. The Hawks will face Washington in the opening round.
Indiana took advantage of the backups by pulling out to a 22-15 lead after one quarter and starting the third quarter on a 9-2 run to turn a seven-point into a 59-45 cushion. The Hawks never seriously challenged again.
The Pacers enter the playoffs as the hottest team in the East.
Indiana was so far ahead at the end of the third quarter, 84-68, coach Nate McMillan could have given his best players some extra rest. Instead, he played it safe, stuck to the rotation and kept the pressure on Atlanta, which got as close as 95-84 with 5:15 to play.
But the Pacers finally closed it out with a 7-2 spurt – on a night they wound up needing to win.
Chicago and Miami both started the final day of the regular season one game behind Indiana, though both teams had tiebreakers over the Pacers. When the Bulls and Heat both won, Indiana had to win to make it in, too.
Hawks: The five starters Wednesday came into the game with a combined total of 24 starts for Atlanta this season. … The Hawks had 20 turnovers and were outscored 25-3 in points off turnovers. … Center Dwight Howard sat out with tightness in his back but coach Mike Budenholzer said he didn’t believe the injury was serious. … Atlanta’s three-game streak with 30 or more assists also ended. They finished with 19. … The Hawks finished the season 11-7 on the second game of back-to-backs.
Pacers: Teague scored 14 points in the second half, becoming the first Pacers player to start all 82 games since Mike Dunleavy in 2007-08. But he left the game and did not return with 2:08 to go after appearing to injure his left ankle. … George has scored 20 or more points in 12 straight games. He finished the season with (1,774) points, passing Reggie Miller (1,751) for the No. 5 on the franchise’s single-season scoring list. And with five 3s, George also tied Miller (195) for the third highest single-season total in the Pacers’ NBA history. … Indiana has made the playoffs six times in seven years.
Hawks: Are waiting to find out when they’ll travel to Washington for the NBA playoffs.
Pacers: Will visit defending champion Cleveland in the first round.
Bulls Take Care Of Business, Clinch Playoff Berth
Jimmy Butler scored 25 points, and the Chicago Bulls beat the depleted Brooklyn Nets 112-73 in the regular-season finale to clinch an Eastern Conference playoff spot on Wednesday.
Paul Zipser added a career-high 21 points off the bench as Chicago took advantage of a short-handed Brooklyn lineup to secure its first playoff appearance under coach Fred Hoiberg.
On Tuesday, the Nets, owners of the worst record in the league, announced Trevor Booker, Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez would be out due to rest, while Quincy Acy (ankle), Joe Harris (shoulder) and Sean Kilpatrick (hamstring) because of injuries.
Heat victory over Wizards not enough to make Playoffs
Goran Dragic scored 28 points, Hassan Whiteside added 24 points and 18 rebounds, and the Miami Heat defeated the Washington Wizards 110-102 on Wednesday night while being eliminated from the NBA playoffs.
Miami needed a win, and either a loss by Indiana or Chicago, to reach the postseason. But Indiana downed Atlanta to clinch the No. 7 seed, and Chicago topped Brooklyn to grab the No. 8 spot.
Willie Reed scored 16, Josh Richardson had 15 and James Johnson scored 12 for Miami.
Trey Burke scored 27 for Washington, while Sheldon McClellan had 18, Marcin Gortat added 16 and Otto Porter Jr. finished with 11.
The Wizards played without starters John Wall, Bradley Beal and Markieff Morris, all resting up for Game 1 of their first-round series against Atlanta this weekend.
Washington started the season 2-8, and ended up with the No. 4 seed in the East.
By NBA News
First appeared on NBA.com Global