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2000 NBA Finals
2000 NBA Finals.png
Team Coach Wins
Los Angeles Lakers Phil Jackson 4
Indiana Pacers Larry Bird 2
Dates: June 7–19
MVP: Shaquille O'Neal
(Los Angeles Lakers)
Eastern Finals: Pacers defeated Knicks, 4–2
Western Finals: Lakers defeated Trail Blazers, 4–3

The 2000 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1999–2000 National Basketball Association season.

The Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Eastern Conferencechampion Indiana Pacers 4 games to 2. This was the Lakers' first championship in twelve years. Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the series, his first of three consecutive honors. The series was played under a best-of-seven format, with the Lakers holding home-court advantage.

Until 2008, this was the most recent NBA Finals to feature the number one seeds from both conferences.

2000 NBA Playoffs

Los Angeles Lakers (Western Conference Champion) Indiana Pacers (Eastern Conference Champion)
67–15 (.817)

1st Pacific, 1st West, 1st Overall

Regular season 56–26 (.683)

1st Central, 1st East, 3rd Overall

Defeated the (8) Sacramento Kings, 3–2 First Round Defeated the (8) Milwaukee Bucks, 3–2
Defeated the (5) Phoenix Suns, 4–1 Conference Semifinals Defeated the (4) Philadelphia 76ers, 4–2
Defeated the (3) Portland Trail Blazers, 4–3 Conference Finals Defeated the (3) New York Knicks, 4–2

Background

Los Angeles Lakers

Although the Lakers were one of the more talented teams in the NBA the previous year, they failed to win a single game against the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the 1999 NBA Playoffs. Twenty-four days after being swept by the eventual league champion, the Lakers signed Phil Jackson as head coach. Jackson, famous for coaching Michael Jordan and the six-time champion Chicago Bulls, would build his triangle offense around Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. General Manager Jerry West surrounded O'Neal and Bryant with effective role players such as Glen Rice, Ron Harper (who had experience with Jackson's triangle offense as part of the 1996–1998 Bulls), and A. C. Green (member of the last two Lakers championship teams in 1987 and 1988).

Along with these starters, the Lakers also possessed a strong bench. Robert Horry not only had championship experience with the Houston Rockets but also was a threat on the perimeter and a defensive star. Derek Fisher was a defensively minded point-guard with the ability to shoot well from long range. Rick Fox, acquired after being released by the Boston Celtics, was the Lakers' sixth man.

With a healthy O'Neal, the Lakers dominated the regular season. They posted a 33-7 record after 40 games, the second-best record after 40 games in franchise history, trailing only the 1971-72 Lakers who posted a record of 37-3 after 40 games. They posted winning streaks of 11, 16, and 19 en route to a 67–15 record, tying the 1992 Chicago Bulls and 1986 Boston Celtics as the fifth best record in NBA regular season history.

Although many expected the Lakers to reach the Finals, the road would be a rocky one. In the first round, the Lakers won the first two games against the Sacramento Kings, only to drop the next two games in Sacramento. The Lakers then defeated Sacramento in Game 5, 113–86, to face the Phoenix Suns in the conference semifinals. The Lakers clobbered the Suns, winning the series 4–1 (with their only loss coming in Game 4). In Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers, Rasheed Wallace earned two technical fouls and was ejected; the Lakers took advantage of Wallace's absence and secured victory. The Trail Blazers stormed back in the next game, giving the Lakers their worst home loss of the season in a 106–77 shellacking. This setback did not affect Los Angeles, as they assembled a 3–1 series lead by winning the next two games in Portland. The Lakers underestimated the Trail Blazers, however. Led by former Jackson linchpin Scottie Pippen, Portland won back-to-back elimination games and forced a series-deciding Game 7. Amid several controversial foul calls by referee Dick Bavetta against members of the Trail Blazers, Portland relinquished a 75–60 fourth quarter lead. Rallying back with a 25–4 run, the Lakers won the game and secured a berth in the NBA Finals for the first time since 1991.

Indiana Pacers

In the 1997–98 NBA season, the Chicago Bulls narrowly defeated the Pacers, 4 games to 3, in the Eastern Conference Finals. The 1998–99 NBA season began with a lockout, but saw Indiana return to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost to the eighth-seeded New York Knicks. The 1999–00 NBA season brought several major changes to the Pacers. It was their first season at Conseco Fieldhouse, as well as their first since 1993 without center Antonio Davis, who was traded for the rights to the No. 5 overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft. Jalen Rose replaced Chris Mullin in the starting line up, winning the NBA Most Improved Player award, while Austin Croshere replaced him as the sixth man.

The Pacers started the season 7–7 but eventually finished with an Eastern Conference best 56–26 record, including a franchise-best 25 game win streak at home. The Pacers, like the Lakers, struggled in the playoffs. They needed a clutch Travis Best three-pointer to dispatch the Milwaukee Bucks in five games. Indiana faced the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round and took the series in six games, earning a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pacers would face their rivals, the New York Knicks, winning a memorable six game series in a reversal of fortunes from years past. With the victory, Indiana advanced to their first NBA Finals in franchise history, becoming the second former ABA team to do so after the San Antonio Spurs the previous season.

Series summary

Game Date Home Team Result Away Team
Game 1 June 7 Los Angeles 104–87 Indiana
Game 2 June 9 Los Angeles 111–104 Indiana
Game 3 June 11 Indiana 100–91 Los Angeles
Game 4 June 14 Indiana 118–120 (OT) Los Angeles
Game 5 June 16 Indiana 120–87 Los Angeles
Game 6 June 19 Los Angeles 116–111 Indiana
Preceded by
1999
NBA Finals
2000
Succeeded by
2001
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