Assessing The Pacers Race For No. 3 Seed In East

Mar 1, 2012; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic power forward Ryan Anderson (33) celebrates with center Dwight Howard (12), point guard Jameer Nelson (14) and shooting guard J.J. Redick (7) after a dunk during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

The Orlando Magic ran out of steam and let a fourth-quarter lead slip on their way to losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday. The Magic loss added a half game to the Indiana Pacers grip on the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference.

Yeah, I know, it may be a little early to start locking in playoff spots, but we have three off days here so it never hurts to engage in a little senseless speculation. Besides Bruno started it by taking a look at the Pacers' biggest threats in the race for the No. 3 spot in the East.

With all due respect to Frank Vogel, who continually challenges the Pacers to strive for bigger and better things -- like not settling for third place in the East -- I submit that keeping the chair in which they sit would not only be a noble and worthy goal to pursue but one that will not be accomplished without great difficulty.

Conrad goes on to run through the teams giving chase for the third seed. Orlando remains the most legit threat save for a Dwight Howard-induced implosion of some kind, whether that be a trade of the big fella or mass distractions while avoiding a trade. Philly is struggling but they have the Atlantic Division lead to lean on. New York probably remains the biggest threat if they can continue playing well and get all of their uniquely talented pieces to mesh for the greater good of winning.

So which team do you think has the best chance of displacing the Pacers?

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