Indiana, Minnesota complete NBA conference finals cast

MANILA – Indiana and Minnesota joined Boston and Dallas in the National Basketball Association (NBA) league semifinals after stunning their opponents on the road in their rubber matches on Monday (PH time).

In the first game, the Pacers silenced the Madison Square Garden in New York City by eliminating the Knicks, 130-109.

Behind a league playoff record 67.1 percent shooting, Indiana was just too much for a weary New York side.

The Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis will open for the Eastern Conference finals for the first time after a decade.

“We have a historic offense obviously, but this guy got things rolling and everybody kind of just followed suit,” center Myles Turner said, referring to Tyrese Haliburton, who had 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting including 6-for-12 from beyond the arc.

Second time around

Making the Pacers' win more special was because it was reminiscent of how the Reggie Miller-led squad 30 years ago ousted the Knicks from playoff contention in the same arena.

New York fans thought they could be halfway into getting some revenge as late into Game 2, with the Knicks already having enough cushion to hold on in the end, made their voices heard to Miller, now a commentator, by chanting "F*** you, Reggie!"

Both New York and Indiana won their home games in the first six games of the series but in Game 7 back at The Garden, the Pacers delivered a road rage to clinch the series victory.

“To do that on the road here in the Garden in Game 7 obviously is phenomenal, but I think this is what we’ve been doing all season long and we were able to show it on the biggest stage,” Turner further said.

“I just told our team when you win a Game 7 in Madison Square Garden, you’ve made history,” Indiana coach Rick Carlisle added.

Pascal Siakam and Andrew Nembhard each tallied 20 points, while Aaron Nesmith went 8-for-8 from the field for 19 markers.

Donte DiVincenzo exploded for 39 points for New York, but the other members of the "Villanova 3" slumped in the decider.

Jalen Brunson only finished with 17 points of 6-for-17 shooting before leaving the game with a fractured left hand, although he too had nine assists.

Josh Hart, on the other hand, was held to just 10 markers on 3-of-9 field goals, although he also tallied eight rebounds, five assists, and two steals.

Alec Burks stepped up and contributed 26 points, three rebounds, and two assists.

Nuggets step down

Meanwhile, the Timberwolves put up a solid defensive stand in the second half to dethrone the Denver Nuggets, 98-90, in their Game 7 at Ball Arena in Denver.

Minnesota completed the biggest second-half comeback in a Game 7 in NBA history as it crawled back from a 15-point halftime deficit and even from as much as 20 early in the third quarter.

The team finished the third on a 28-9 run to cut the lead down to 67-66.

It went on a crucial 7-0 run midway into the final frame to virtually ice the game and the series.

Karl-Anthony Town and Jaden McDaniels each scored 23 points for the Timberwolves, who are back in the Western Conference Finals after 20 years.

Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic combined for 69 points for the Nuggets, but the rest of the team combined for only 21.

It is the sixth straight year that a different NBA champion will be crowned.

From 1975 to 1980, six clubs also took turns in winning each season.

It is likewise the fifth straight time the erstwhile champion was eliminated in the conference semifinals.

The final four begins with the Eastern Conference finals between Indiana and Boston on Wednesday (PH time) at the TD Garden in Boston.

The West finals between Dallas and Minnesota will commence Thursday (PH time) at the Target Center in Minneapolis. (Ivan Stewart Saldajeno/PNA)