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:
|New York Knicks||68||42-26||.618|