McMillan and George earn conference honors after Pacers went 5-1 in April

Team success leads to individual awards, and that was the case for Indiana on Friday. One day before the start of the NBA Playoffs, Pacers head coach Nate McMillan was named Coach of the Month and Paul George was named Player of the Month in the Eastern Conference.

One of the bright spots to the Pacers’ season was how they ended it, going 5-1 … including five straight victories to close. In doing so, they clinched the 7-seed and face second-seeded Cleveland in Round 1.

[Pacers-Cavaliers tip-off 2017 NBA Playoffs on Saturday]

McMillan becomes the sixth Pacers coach to earn a Coach of the Month honor at least once. George has now been Player of the Month twice before, but both previous times were for his play in November (2013-14, 2015-16). Detlef Schrempf (1992) and Jermaine O’Neal (twice in 2003, and 2004) are the only other players to earn said award.

The Pacers took the Cavaliers to two overtimes before coming up just short in Cleveland, 135-130. Then the Pacers beat Toronto, Milwaukee, Orlando, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. During this stretch, they scored over 100 points in every game, averaging 115.5, which ranked third in the league. They also won by an average of 11.7 points.

Paul George averaged 32.8pts, 8.2rebs, and 4.5asts in April.

George, meanwhile, played the best he ever has in the regular season. He scored an NBA-high 32.9 points per game — with at least 32 points in four of the six games — and recorded three double-doubles. On top of that, he contributed 8.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists as the urgent Pacers qualified for the postseason in six of his seven years with the team. Notably, he also shot 54.8 percent from the field and 42.4 percent from behind the line.

George is hopeful that he did enough to warrant an All-NBA vote from a panel of approximately 100 media members. Hall of Famer Reggie Miller believes he did.

“Certainly he is deserving of one of those top three forward spots [in the All-NBA vote],” Miller said on a conference call with media on Thursday. “It’ll be interesting if he does make it, I know there’s numbers attached to it which I do not like. You’re allowing the media to kind of control what’s in your contract, but he’s certainly deserving of that.”

The Pacers and Cavaliers get the playoffs started Saturday at 3:00 pm, and on ABC.

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