How far have the Indiana Pacers gone in the NBA playoffs?

The Indiana Pacers defeated the New York Knicks in seven games to reach the Eastern Conference Finals, where they will face the heavily favored Boston Celtics. A series win would give Indiana a spot in the NBA Finals, a spot the franchise has only held once before. What follows is a review of the team’s playoff history and how far they have come.

The Pacers’ playoff run in 2024 has been an exciting one, after the team dominated the Milwaukee Bucks in six games before coming back from 3-2 down to defeat the Knicks. Entering the playoffs as the sixth seed in the East, the team has the chance to do the improbable and eliminate a conference’s top three seeds en route to a spot in the Finals. That would be one hell of a story and would add a positive chapter to the club’s decidedly mixed playoff history.

The Pacers have never won an NBA title. But before joining the NBA in 1976, they won three ABA championships. After its founding in 1967, the franchise quickly rose to the top of the ABA, winning three titles in four seasons.

In 1970, the Pacers dominated the Los Angeles Stars in the ABA Finals in six games. In 1972, they were back in the Finals, beating the New York Nets in six games. They faced each other in 1973, defeating the Kentucky Colonels in a seven-game series.

Indiana is making its eighth appearance in the Eastern Conference finals. The Pacers last placed in this round was in 2014, but they also did it in 2013, 2004, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1995 and 1994. They have one Eastern Conference title and it came in 2000.

The Pacers reached the NBA Finals in 2000 and faced Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and the Los Angeles Lakers. This did not go well for Indiana, as the Shaq-Kobe Lakers were about to begin a three-game championship streak.

Reggie Miller and his teammates lost the first two games of the series, came back to win game three at home, then dropped game four before winning game five. The Lakers closed out the series at home, winning 116-111 behind 41 points and 12 rebounds from O’Neal. The loss to Los Angeles must have stung Pacers head coach Larry Bird, a former Boston Celtics great.

Since then, Indiana has not reached the NBA Finals.

Even though Indiana didn’t enter the playoffs as a championship favorite, the team played like it belonged. While the Pacers aren’t led by a litany of household names, they do have one of the NBA’s emerging young stars, as point guard Tyrese Haliburton has reached that level.

This season, Haliburton averaged 20.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 10.9 assists in 32.2 minutes over 69 games. This is his first appearance in the playoffs and he has lived up to it, posting a line of 18.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 8.1 assists per game.

Haliburton is aided by former NBA champion Pascal Siakam and Myles Turner. Given his abilities and the talent around him, Indiana can definitely win a title this year.

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