The No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference remains in play after the Brooklyn Nets posted an impressive road win over the Indiana Pacers on Friday to win their fourth consecutive game. With three games to play, the Pacers simply need one win or a Brooklyn loss to clinch the third spot in the East.
But with the way both teams are playing lately, this race could make it to the last game of the season. The Pacers have now lost three of their last four games and, save for a near-miraculous fourth-quarter comeback to beat Cleveland on Tuesday, have looked awful on the court as their league-leading defense is suddenly getting torched.
To hold on to their playoff spot and squeeze out one more win, the Pacers are going to have to earn it. Indiana hits the road for their next two games against the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics. When the Pacers are playing well, the Knicks and Celtics present problematic matchups which adds to the challenge since Indiana is struggling on the court. The Pacers' final game of the season is at home against the Philadelphia 76ers, a team that beat the Pacers in their last meeting in mid-March.
Should the Pacers fail to win another game, Brooklyn can steal the third spot by winning all of their remaining games. Thanks to a sweep of the season series with Indiana, the Nets own the tie-breaker. Brooklyn closes out the regular season with an easier schedule, which includes a road game on Sunday at the Toronto Raptors and then home games against the Washington Wizards and Detroit Pistons.
The No. 3 seed remains valuable in a look ahead toward the playoffs since it pushes off a potential meeting with the Miami Heat to the conference championship round.
Here is look at the full Eastern Conference playoff standings.
|1||z - Miami||63||16||.797||-||Won 5||8-2|
|2||y - New York||52||27||.658||11||Won 1||9-1|
|3||y - Indiana||49||30||.620||14||Lost 1||6-4|
|4||x - Brooklyn||47||32||.595||16||Won 4||7-3|
|5||x - Atlanta||44||36||.550||19 ½||Won 2||5-5|
|6||x - Chicago||43||36||.544||20||Lost 1||5-5|
|7||x - Boston||40||39||.506||23||Lost 2||4-6|
|8||x - Milwaukee||37||42||.468||26||Lost 3||3-7|