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Pacers, Thunder advance in NBA playoffs after all

George finally gets Pacers into second round
George finally gets Pacers into second round
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The NBA playoffs have been defined by chaos so far. In fact, the Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder looked likely to be among the first teams eliminated, not the last two teams standing. But although these could have become the most upset laded NBA playoffs in recent memory, the Pacers and Thunder finally restored order in their Game 7 victories on May 3.

Both the Pacers and Thunder needed Game 6 road victories over the Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies just to get here. Yet when they did, they didn't get scared again, as the Pacers took control in the second quarter en route to a 92-80 win, while the Thunder dominated the second half to win by 120-109.

After all the trouble Indiana had in the last several weeks, the ease of its Game 7 triumph came from nowhere. However, once the Pacers got hot and ended the first half on a 14-2 run -- and the Hawks had just 13 second quarter points -- things became anticlimactic as Indiana held a double digit lead from then on.

Paul George could have been suspended for Game 7, after briefly leaving the bench during a Game 6 altercation. But he was spared and scored 30 points with his second chance, leading Indiana in its own second chance. Now that the Pacers ultimately survived a 38-win Hawks team in seven games, they hope the rest of the NBA playoffs will be easier by comparison -- starting by facing the hotter Washington Wizards in the second round.

As for the Thunder, they took advantage of their own Game 6 road win and the suspension of the Grizzlies' Zach Randolph. Memphis was still red hot to start Game 7, yet once Oklahoma City got hot itself, it had a 61-58 halftime lead behind Kevin Durant's 21 points.

The Pacers pulled ahead in the second quarter and never looked back, while the Thunder waited until the third to put Game 7 out of reach. By the time it was over, Durant had 33 points, Russell Westbrook had a triple-double and Oklahoma City did what everyone expected it to do after all.

Although the NBA playoffs made history with five Game 7's this weekend, the first three went to the home favorites. Perhaps that is a sign the postseason will be conventional after all, which the Pacers and Thunder wouldn't mind right now.