Pacers receive another chance after Heat's loss to Sixers, Thunder game crucial

The Pacers are back in sixth place after the Miami Heat loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday. Now they must beat the Thunder.
Philadelphia 76ers v Indiana Pacers
Philadelphia 76ers v Indiana Pacers / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

Surprisingly, the Indiana Pacers still have life.

After Wednesday's demoralizing loss to the Brooklyn Nets, many assumed the Pacers had lost all hope for staying out of the play-in and would have to win out to even get a fighting chance. However, that may not be the case after Thursday's Philadelphia 76ers vs Miami Heat game.

Going into this game, Pacers fans were rooting for the Sixers, as a win for Philly would put them only one game behind Indiana, but would take Miami back half a game, once again behind the Pacers who would overtake the sixth seed yet again.

Sure enough, this would be the case. After an initial hot start, Philadelphia squandered a big lead to the Heat, almost throwing the game away at one point, but eventually came back for the 109-105 win to hand the Pacers the sixth seed back. After Thursday's games, the Pacers are once again the sixth seed, but only stand half a game ahead of the Heat and one game ahead of the Sixers, who have newfound momentum with Joel Embiid back.

The Pacers still need to stack up wins despite help from Philly

However, the Pacers still need to hold up their end of the bargain. Friday's slate of games is very important for Indiana, as they face a depleted Oklahoma City Thunder team missing both Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams, two of their best players.

Of course, this could end up not meaning much, as the Pacers are known for losing to inferior teams, and this would be another routine loss against a defanged top seed, but a win would work wonders. Miami also plays on Friday, facing the Houston Rockets, a team also fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Provided Miami loses to Houston, and Indiana takes care of business against Oklahoma City, the Pacers would take a 1.5-game lead over the Heat going into Sunday's matchup between the two teams, This game holds significantly more weight than the others on the schedule, as it counts for a full game difference in the standings rather than the half-game most of them count as.

If Indiana beats Oklahoma City and Miami loses to Houston, they can maybe afford a loss here. However, if Indiana fails to take care of business yet again against an inferior team, Sunday's game becomes even more must-win than before, as Indiana stares down an almost guaranteed play-in spot if they lose on Friday and Sunday.


The Pacers keep throwing opportunities away, and as fate would have it, new ones keep getting thrown back at them. Friday and Sunday's games may be their last chance to take advantage, as Miami and Philadelphia have rather easy schedules coming up, while Indiana faces another playoff team to end their season, the third-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers, in a potential first-round matchup preview. Before that, it comes down to three words: Take care of business.