As the Indiana Pacers try to lock or improve upon a potential third seed for the NBA playoffs, they will have a chance to play both the team in front of them and the team behind them in the Eastern Conference during the team’s final four contests.
Currently sitting at 49-29, the Pacers’ remaining slate includes the Brooklyn Nets, the New York Knicks, the Boston Celtics, and the Philadelphia 76ers. The first and the last game are at home, while the two in the middle are on the road. Three of the four teams are playoff-bound, while the Knicks lead the Pacers by two games, and the Nets trail the Pacers by three in the hunt for higher seeds.
Pacers’ fans would certainly hope to see its team peaking as the playoffs near, but they have actually lost two of their last three games. It would have been three of three were it not for a 20-point fourth-quarter turnaround win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday in a game in which Head Coach Frank Vogel got ejected. Five Pacers scored in double figures in a winning effort, including George Hill’s 27.
The remaining schedule will be a good test for this group to see how well-focused they are heading into the postseason. The easiest game left is the last one, which will probably be the hardest one one to care about, unless seedings are still to be determined.
But you can bet the Nets and Knicks in particular will be up for the challenge. Brook Lopez (19.4 ppg) and the Nets come to Indianapolis as winners of four of their last five games. The Knicks, who host the Pacers, have won 13 out of 14 games and are led by Carmelo Anthony’s 28.7 points per game.
The Celtics’ season has been a disappointing one by their own standards, but you still can’t count on an anything close to an automatic-win on the road against a team with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.