Pacers Tank Watch: Who will be brave enough to lose ’em all?

Rick Carlisle, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Rick Carlisle, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

With just eight games left under their watch, the Indiana Pacers are running out of time to secure a postseason berth. Currently tied for 11th in the East and just outside the play-in tournament picture, they find themselves behind by 2.5 games to the Chicago Bulls to land an outside shot at the final playoff seed.

Taking this into account, it would absolutely be wiser for the franchise to jockey for a more reasonable race than the race to see who gets swept by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round: the tank race.

The four worst teams are in immovable positions, but the podium for the fifth-highest odds to land the first overall pick (or Victor Wembanyama) remains without a definite holder. Somehow, the Pacers are still in the running for that spot with three other teams just in the vicinity.

With just eight games left, the Indiana Pacers should call it quits and look forward to better draft positioning instead

Among Indiana’s current tier are Orlando, Washington, and Portland. The Magic are two full games ahead of the Blazers and currently own the fifth-highest odds at 10.5 percent, while the Pacers are tied with the Wizards and are just half a game behind Portland for the sixth spot. Ties are broken through a random drawing.

Interestingly, the Magic, Wizards, and Pacers are all tied for 11th in remaining schedule strength while the Trail Blazers are right behind them. However, Indiana has an optic advantage in that three of their “weakest” opponents remaining are teams currently in the mix for the playoffs or the play-in tournament (Oklahoma City, Atlanta, and Dallas).

Conversely, Orlando will still face beatable teams in Washington and Detroit, Washington still has room for victory against Houston and Orlando, and Portland will still be on deck for a near-sure win against San Antonio.

With the regular season on its final hurrah, the Indiana Pacers have to do the objectively right thing by going full throttle on making the upcoming draft count. Even if they have to be pretty audacious and try to lose all their remaining games with a playoff spot virtually out of the woods, given the main prize, it should all be worth it in the end.

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