What's at stake for the Pacers in a crucial game Sunday vs. the Heat

After a solid win on Friday night, the Pacers have a massive game on Sunday against the Heat with a lot at stake.
Apr 5, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Pascal Siakam (43) dribbles the ball
Apr 5, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Pascal Siakam (43) dribbles the ball / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers won a crucial game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night. The 126-112 victory kept the Pacers at 6th in the Eastern Conference standings and a half-game above the Heat for 7th. This keeps them out of the play-in game...for now.

I say for now because these two teams have a massive game on Sunday in Indianapolis. The Pacers have just four games left in the season while the Heat have five. Whoever wins on Sunday is in the driver's seat to keep the 6th spot and stay out of the play-in game.

Miami has won four of their last five games heading into this game. The reigning Eastern Conference Champions are starting to gear up for the playoffs. They are a dangerous team this time of year. But more than just the 6th seed is at stake for these two teams.

The Pacers still have an outside shot at home-court advantage

While the 6th seed is the biggest thing at stake, the Pacers still have a realistic shot at getting home-court advantage in the playoffs. With a win, they will be just a game out of the 4th seed. Strange things can happen down the stretch that could see Indiana hosting a playoff series.

Miami isn't out of that possibility either, although they would need much more help. I would venture to say that Sunday's matchup is a must-win for the Pacers. They want absolutely nothing to do with the play-in against Philly now that they have Joel Embiid.

If Tyrese Haliburton can keep playing at the level he's been playing at lately, the Pacers have a good chance to win it. Following the game on Sunday, they finish off with games in Toronto and Cleveland and home against the Hawks. Not exactly a murderer's row.

Next. Next story. Three most impactful injuries in recent Pacers history. dark

Still, Miami will be their focus. Winning that game should give the Pacers a lot of confidence heading into the final stretch of the season. That game against Cleveland could end up being a preview of a first-round playoff series.