Pacers playoff picture still unclear

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The Pacers practice at Bankers Life Fieldhouse before leaving for their final road trip of the regular season. (WXIN April 7, 2017)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – 80 games down, just 2 to go for the Pacers in the regular season, and we still don’t know if the Blue and Gold will make the playoffs.

Some seasons, we know a team’s playoff fate long before the final week; but not this year.  Not by a long shot.

So, grab a pen and paper and take some notes:

Entering Monday night’s games, the Pacers hold the 7 spot in the Eastern Conference.  That would get them a first round match-up with the 2 seed Boston, led by former Butler head coach Brad Stevens.

But here’s where things get tricky.  Indiana could still finish as high as 5th or as low as 9th – which would be out of the playoffs all together.

The Pacers do control their own destiny.  Wins over the Sixers and the Hawks on Wednesday will get them in the playoffs no matter what the other teams do.

Atlanta and Milwaukee have clinched spots, but not seeds. That leaves the Pacers, Bulls, and Heat battling for the final 2 spots.

Indiana has a one game lead over both Chicago and Miami, but both those teams own the time-breaker with the Pacers.

The Bulls have home games left with two stiffs – Orlando and Brooklyn.

The Heat have home games with Cleveland (who won’t be playing its studs) and Washington.

So, both those teams COULD win out. That means the Pacers would have to do so as well.

Bottom line for Indiana: beat Philly and Atlanta to avoid any worries and scoreboard watching.

Now if the Pacers do end up in the playoffs. Their 1st round opponent would be either Cleveland, Boston, Toronto, or Washington… but that’s a story for another day.

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