On June 7, 2000, the Los Angeles Lakers began the final step in their attempt to return to the glory days. After defeating the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers matched up against the Indiana Pacers in the NBA Finals.
In Game 1 against the Pacers, Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal continued his dominant play that he had on display throughout the NBA Playoffs. He finished Game 1 with 21 field goals, one shy of the NBA Finals mark of 22, shared by Elgin Baylor and Rick Barry.
In the Lakers’ first game in the first round against the Sacramento Kings, O’Neal burst onto the scene for 46 points. In a second round series opener against the Phoenix Suns, he posted a 37-point effort. In the Western Conference Finals opener against Portland, he came out of the box with 41 points. In all, O’Neal averaged 41.8 ppg in the year’s playoff openers.
In Game 1 of NBA Finals against the Pacers, Shaq turned in a dominate performance. He finished the game with 43 points on 21 of 31 shooting from the field, 19 rebounds and 3 blocks in the Lakers 104-87 win. The Lakers went on to win the series in six games, and Shaq was named to his first NBA Finals MVP.
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