And then there were four. The semifinals of the NBA In-Season Tournament are set following this week’s games on Monday and Tuesday.
The Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans, Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers are heading to Las Vegas to figure out which teams will face off in the final.
Here is a recap of the four quarterfinal contests.
Reviews for the inaugural In-Season Tournament were mixed during group play, but the first quarterfinal contest all but confirmed that this event is here to stay.
The atmosphere inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse was absolutely electric on Tuesday night, and home-court advantage helped the Indiana Pacers pull off an upset of title-favorites the Boston Celtics by a 122-112 score.
Unsurprisingly, Tyrese Haliburton was the star. He delivered a triple-double for the Pacers with 26 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds while shooting 10-of-18 from the floor and 5-of-11 from three-point range. Plus, he didn't commit a turnover.
Seven Indiana players scored in double-figures, including Buddy Hield with 21 points. The Pacers went on a dramatic 17-7 game-ending run after the score was tied at 105 with a little more than 90 seconds remaining.
Haliburton is +450 to win In-Season Tournament MVP.
Each of Tuesday’s games resulted in an upset, as the New Orleans Pelicans went to California and produced a 10-point victory over the Sacramento Kings by a 127-117 score.
The Pelicans took control by outscoring their opponent 34-25 in the second quarter and led by as many as 15 points in the third. They never trailed after the 11:44 mark of the second quarter.
New Orleans was paced by Brandon Ingram, who led six players in double-figures with 30 points, while Herbert Jones added 23 and Trey Murphy III added 16 off the bench. De’Aaron Fox (30 points) and Domantas Sabonis (26) did their best to keep Sacramento competitive, but it wasn’t enough.
The Pelicans are the +1.5-point underdogs against the Lakers in the semifinals on Thursday.
With Boston having already exited the In-Season Tournament, the New York Knicks had a chance to send another message about a potential changing of the guard in the Eastern Conference. Instead, the Milwaukee Bucks restored order to the proceedings and blew out the visitors by 146-122 on Wednesday night.
Whereas the Bucks had six guys in double-figures, the Knicks got basically nothing from anyone other than Julius Randle (41 points), Jalen Brunson (24) and RJ Barrett (23).
For Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered 35 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and three steals. Damian Lillard added 28 points, Malik Beasley went 6-for-10 from deep en route to 18 points and Brook Lopez chipped in nine points, eight boards, three assists, three steals and three blocks.
The Bucks are -3.5 favorites over the Pacers and they are +170 favorites to win the In-Season Tournament.
The Las Vegas lineup is rounded out by the Los Angeles Lakers, who wrapped up the quarterfinal competition with a dramatic and controversial 106-103 victory over the visiting Phoenix Suns.
Leading by two points with fewer than 10 seconds remaining, Los Angeles lost control of the ball but was granted a timeout before Phoenix gained possession for what could have been a routine, game-tying layup.
The Suns had to foul, Anthony Davis hit one of two free-throws and Kevin Durant missed a potential tying three-pointer at the buzzer.
Whatever the case, the Lakers were arguably the better team and led basically the entire way.
They were led by - you guessed it - LeBron James, who finished with 31 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds and five steals. Davis scored 27 and Austin Reaves hit a huge three-pointer with 15 seconds left to give himself 20 points.
Los Angeles is +240 to win the In-Season Tournament.