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On This Date in Sports May 12, 1973: Pace Setters

The Indiana Pacers win their second straight ABA Championship and third in four years by beating the Kentucky Colonels 88-81 in Game 7 of the ABA Finals at Freedom Hall in Louisville. Leading the way for the Pacers was George McInnis, who had 27 points and seven rounds as he was named Playoff MVP. The Pacers' three ABA Championships were the most in the league with the tri-colored ball.


Coached by Bob “Slick” Leonard, the Indiana Pacers were the class of the American Basketball Association. Making the ABA Finals in 1969 and winning championships in 1970 and 1972, the Pacers finished in second place in 1973, posting a record of 51-33. In the Western Division Semifinals, the Pacers needed just five games to eliminate the Denver Rockets before moving on to defeat the Utah Stars in six games to reach the ABA Finals for the fourth time in five years.

The Pacers face the Kentucky Colonels in the Finals. The Colonels, coached by Joe Mullaney, also finished in second place with a 56-28 mark in the Eastern Division. The Colonels took down Virginia Squires in five games before a showdown with the first-place Carolina Cougars. Kentucky would win the series against the first-place Cougars in seven games to reach the ABA Finals for the second time in three seasons, having lost the 1971 ABA Finals in seven games to the Utah Stars.

Despite 33 points from Dan Issel, the Colonels were stunned at Freedom Hall in the series opener 111-107 as Freddie Lewis led Indiana with 29 points. With Artis Gilmore scoring 29 points with 26 rebounds, the Colonels bounced back with a 114-102 win in Game 2. As the series shifted to the Indiana State Fair Coliseum, defense took over, with the Colonels taking control of the series with a 92-88 win as Gilmore again led the way with 28 points and 16 boards. Facing the prospect of falling behind 3-1, the Pacers' defense shutdown Artis Gilmore in Game 4, as Indiana tied the series at two games apiece with a 90-86 win.


In Game 5, Freddie Lewis had 31 points for the Pacers, while Dan Issel scored 31 for the Colonels, as the Pacers regained control with an 89-86 win. The Pacers went into Game 6 looking to close out the series at home, but the Colonels' offense broke out in a big way as Gilmore scored 29 points to lead the way, with Louie Dampier adding 25 and Issel adding 22 in a 109-93 win. After Kentucky’s offensive outburst in Game 6, the Pacers' defense came up with a big effort in Game 7 on the road, winning 88-81 to claim the championship. In the finale, George McInnis had 27 points to lead the way, earning the honor of ABA Playoff MVP.