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1999 NBA Playoffs

'It's no big deal'

Pacers take break while Knicks take care of Hawks

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Posted: Monday May 24, 1999 11:50 PM

  With a 7-0 record in the playoffs so far, Pacers' coach Larry Bird isn't too concerned about who Indiana will face next. AP

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The Indiana Pacers low-keyed their second straight playoff sweep. No cheering. No hugging. Just a confident, ho-hum approach for a team picked to be right where it is, in the Eastern Conference finals.

The Pacers got the day off Monday. Next up for Indiana is the New York Knicks, which completed a sweep of Atlanta 79-66 Monday night. The two teams will be meeting in the postseason for the fifth time since 1993, including two series that went seven games.

"It's no big deal. It's just taking care of business, which is to win a championship," Mark Jackson said of the second-round victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

"We understand that we haven't done anything yet."

The Pacers are in the conference finals for the fourth time in six years, and for the first time they have home-court advantage in the best-of-7 series. They lost the seventh game in each of their previous trips, including last year against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

The Pacers will start the series on Sunday against New York.

While coach Larry Bird said he didn't care which team Indiana faces, some of the Pacers were pulling for the Knicks.

"It would certainly be fitting, because of all the history between the two teams," said Reggie Miller, whose last-second 3-pointers and courtside antics with Spike Lee have helped make the Indiana-New York rivalry. "Personally, it would be great."

The Pacers are the only team that hasn't lost a game in the playoffs, putting together an 11-game winning streak that includes the final four games of the regular season. Milwaukee and Philadelphia had opportunities to snap the streak, but the Pacers always came up with the crucial score or stop when they needed it in the final minutes.

Indiana was a preseason pick to reach the NBA Finals for the first time, but struggled in close games during the regular season. The Pacers finished 33-17, losing six of seven games in one-point decisions.

They look as if they've put those problems far behind them.

"We didn't care what people thought," Jackson said. "We still don't care about it. I'm sure a lot of people will jump on the bandwagon now, but stay away. ... We're looking forward to winning this whole thing. Anything else, we're not going to be satisfied."

 
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