NBA playoff picture: Pacers pick up win to move ahead of Knicks

USA TODAY Sports

The Pacers pulled slightly ahead of the Knicks Monday night, but New York has a chance to tie it up again if it defeats the Celtics on Tuesday -- the team the two are battling to face in the first round of the playoffs.

A win for the Indiana Pacers Monday night gave them the second seed in the East, although the New York Knicks will have a chance to get it back Tuesday night.

The Pacers were majorly shorthanded -- David West and Danny Granger have been frequent scratches from the lineup, but George Hill and Lance Stephenson were also out -- and had a matchup with the Atlanta Hawks, also a playoff team. That made them seem more likely to drop half a game below New York than push half a game ahead. But a second half surge put the team up as much as 27, and although the Hawks would get the lead back under 10, Indiana earned the 100-94 win.

The Hawks dropped into a tie with the Chicago Bulls for the fifth playoff spot. Some would argue the Hawks or Bulls could be a more appealing playoff matchup than the always-dangerous Boston Celtics, who are two games back of those two teams in seventh place, but the Knicks and Hawks are hypothetically fighting for the right to face Boston in the first round of the playoffs. New York has split the season series with Boston thus far, and will have a chance to tie up the Pacers with another win over the C's -- now without Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett -- Tuesday night.

The only other Eastern Conference playoff team in action Monday night was the Miami Heat, who are on the cusp of sealing the top spot. Here's a look at the full playoff standings:


Eastern Standings

GP W-L PCT
Miami Heat 70 56-14 .800
Indiana Pacers 71 44-27 .620
New York Knicks 68 42-26 .618
Brooklyn Nets 70 41-29 .586
Chicago Bulls 69 38-31 .551
Atlanta Hawks 71 39-32 .549
Boston Celtics 69 36-33 .522
Milwaukee Bucks 69 34-35 .493
Philadelphia 76ers 70 27-43 .386
Toronto Raptors 70 26-44 .371
Washington Wizards 70 26-44 .371
Detroit Pistons 71 24-47 .338
Cleveland Cavaliers 69 22-47 .319
Orlando Magic 71 18-53 .254
Charlotte Bobcats 70 16-54 .229


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