The Pacers and Lakers advanced to the final of the NBA’s inaugural in-season tournament on Thursday by defeating the Bucks and Pelicans in their respective semifinal matchups.
The championship game between the two undefeated teams (both are 6-0 in the tournament) will be held at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday at 7:30 pm CT. The final will be the lone game of the in-season tournament that does not count towards the regular season schedule.
Indiana’s win over Milwaukee was a back-and-forth affair that came down to the final minutes, with guard Tyrese Haliburton delivering another stellar performance (27 points, 15 assists, seven rebounds, zero turnovers), including clutch baskets to seal the victory. Center Myles Turner also had a strong outing, recording 26 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.
However, the other semifinal wasn’t competitive, as Los Angeles demolished New Orleans behind a brilliant showing from LeBron James, who finished with 30 points (on 9-of-12 shooting), eight assists, five rebounds and zero turnovers in just 23 minutes. The Lakers wound up winning by 44 points.
Pelicans head coach Willie Green was understandably disappointed in his team’s effort, tweets Will Guillory of The Athletic.
“Tonight was a total letdown… A lack of competitive spirit,” Green said. “Tonight, we took a step in the wrong direction.”
Players on standard contracts with the Pacers and Lakers have now secured bonuses worth at least $200K (two-way players will earn half that amount). The champs will earn $500K apiece.
The Bucks and Pelicans, meanwhile, earned bonuses of $100K per player for reaching the semifinals, but have been eliminated from contention for the first NBA Cup.