In the final week of the NBA regular season the Indiana Pacers are one of many teams looking to make a final push leading into the playoffs. Following a victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Pacers moved within one game of clinching the number one seed in the East.
On a day where the Thunder could have locked up the second seed in the West, the struggling Pacers came up with a huge 102-97 point victory at home. Despite 0 points from Roy Hibbert, the Pacers bench came up huge for the team as they poured in 41 points. Lance Stephenson also added his league leading fifth triple double of the season with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists.
The Pacers have spoken all season long about how they wanted to secure the number one seed in the East, and now they are just one game away from doing so. The Pacers need a win in their regular season finale, or a loss by the Heat in one of their final two games to lock down the top seed in the East.
The Pacers end their regular season in Orlando on Wednesday night, while the Heat play the Wizards and the 76ers to close out their regular season. The Pacers and Thunder are not the only NBA teams looking to make a final regular season push to secure their position leading into the playoffs.
If the Oklahoma City Thunder happen to go 0-2 in their final two games of the regular season, while the Los Angeles Clippers go 2-0, the Clippers will steal the second seed in the West from the Thunder. Oklahoma’s final two games are against the New Orleans Pelicans and the Detroit Pistons. The Clippers remaining games are against the Denver Nuggets and the Portland Trailblazers.
Speaking of the Blazers, a win over the Golden State Warriors ensured that Portland will finish no lower than the fifth seed in the West this year. If the Rockets finish the season 0-2 and the Trailblazers defeat the Clippers in their regular season finale, Portland would take the fourth seed and home court advantage against the Rockets in their first round series.
The biggest regular season game of the year will be played on Monday night in Phoenix. The Suns will host the Grizzlies with their playoff hopes on the line. If the Suns lose, they are officially eliminated from playoff contention. Even if the Grizzlies lose against Phoenix, they can still make the playoffs with a win on Wednesday against the Dallas Mavericks, who already clinched a playoff berth.
The Toronto Raptors earned their franchise tying 47th win of the year after they defeated the Detroit Pistons. Thanks to the win the Raptors also jumped over the Chicago Bulls to reclaim the third seed in the East. If the Raptors win one of their final two games, while the Bulls lose, they will clinch the three seed. The Brooklyn Nets cannot finish lower than the fifth seed in the East.
The Wizards and Bobcats are in the midst of a battle for the sixth and seventh seeds in the East, with Washington having control of their own destiny. If John Wall and the Wizards go 2-0 to close out the regular season, they will clinch the sixth seed in the East.
While there may only be three days left in the regular season, the Indiana Pacers as well as many other NBA teams are still pushing for key victories to lock up playoff positioning leading into the grind of the postseason.
Commentary by Eric Kummel