IC Cold Links: Pacers Close In On Clinching Playoff Berth

April 09, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers power forward David West (21) takes the ball to the hoop as he is guarded from behind by Toronto Raptors center Aaron Gray (34) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory credit: Michael Hickey-US PRESSWIRE

The Indiana Pacers hold a one game lead for the third spot in the Eastern Conference after beating the Toronto Raptors on Monday night. Making the playoffs has seemed like a foregone conclusion for some time but as the race for the final five spots in the conference has tightened clinching that spot in the post-season party will still be sweet.

With Milwaukee losing last night so the Pacers are up seven games on the Bucks with nine to play. That puts Pacers magic number to clinch a spot in the playoffs at three, meaning any combination of Indiana wins and Milwaukee losses that adds up to three will do the trick. The two teams play in Milwaukee on Saturday so unless the Pacers begin a grand implosion, they can lock up that post-season spot on Saturday at the latest.

The Pacers will have plenty to play for after clinching though as they try to maintain home court advantage for the first round. Still, with the playoff berth a given, it will be nice to stop and appreciate the progress this year.

Check out the links after the jump along with my thoughts following the win last night.

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