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Cavs clinch playoff berth 
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Donovan Mitchell scores 33 points, Cavaliers clinch playoff spot with 129-120 win over Pacers

By BRIAN DULIK


Associated Press

CLEVELAND (AP) Donovan Mitchell scored 33 points, Jarrett Allen had 29 points and 13 rebounds and the Cleveland Cavaliers clinched a playoff berth with a 129-120 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.

Indiana pulled to 120-118 with 2:04 remaining on Pascal Siakam's drive, but Darius Garland answered with a 3-pointer over Siakam. The Cavaliers scored the final six points, capped by an Isaac Okoro three-point play that ended with him somersaulting.

Tyrese Haliburton had 19 points and 12 assists, Siakam scored 19 points and Myles Turner had 17 points for the Pacers, who can still qualify for the playoffs with a win or a Philadelphia loss on Sunday. Indiana had won three straight.

Garland and Caris LeVert each finished with 16 points, and Max Strus had seven points and nine assists. Allen made 13 of 14 shots for Cleveland, which earned its first back-to-back playoff appearances since making four straight NBA Finals from 2015-2018.

The Cavaliers entered the night with the possibility of finishing as high as second and as low as seventh in the East. Indiana’s potential seeds ranged between third and eighth.

The top six teams advance to the playoffs, while the seventh- and eighth-place clubs will be part of the play-in tournament.

“It’s a level of parity there has never been in my 40 years in this league,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “The league has evolved into a true, hard-play league every night.”

Aaron Nesmith scored nine points in the third and Haliburton had eight, pulling Indiana within 97-94 going into the fourth. Pacers forward Obi Toppin sprained his left ankle in the period and did not return.

The Cavaliers built a 14-point lead in the second and were up 70-59 at halftime. Mitchell scored 18 points in 18 minutes and Allen had 16 points and nine rebounds.

UP NEXT

Pacers: Host Atlanta on Sunday.

Cavaliers: Host Charlotte on Sunday.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA

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