The Indiana Pacers have clinched a spot in the 2011 NBA Playoffs, thanks to a win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. The Pacers moved to an unspectacular 36-43 on the season, but that's good enough in the East. The Pacers will likely face to the No. 1 Chicago Bulls in the first round.
Indiana hadn't made the postseason since 2006, when Rick Carlisle led a team starring Stephen Jackson, an injury-riddled Jermaine O'Neal and half of a season of Peja Stojakovic to a 41-41 record and a first-round dismissal by the New Jersey Nets. Only two Pacers remain from that 2006 team: Danny Granger, who was a rookie playing 22 minutes a game, and Jeff Foster, who has played just 1,200 minutes in the past two seasons due to injuries.
The Bulls won the season series 3-1 over the Pacers this season. Chicago would be heavy, heavy favorites, but interim coach Frank Vogel and his rather young team deserve kudos for getting this far. They weren't on the playoff path early this season, so this is a real accomplishment, regardless of the sub-.500 record.