The battle for the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference.
At the moment, Indiana has a half-game lead on the Knicks and a 2.5 game lead on the Nets. The Knicks have 14 games remaining (7 home, 7 road), the Nets have 12 left (5 home, 7 road), and the Pacers have 11 remaining (4 home, 7 road), including a tough upcoming stretch in Texas, where they face Houston and then a warm-Dallas squad. While the Nets have more road games, they face only 4 more +.500 opponents, while the Knicks will play 9 of their 14 against +.500 teams.
Darko Index Prediction: The Pacers continue their strong play and end the season with 50 wins, barely edging out both Brooklyn and New York, who finish with 49 wins. Indiana gets the 2nd seed. Brooklyn gets the 3rd seed by virtue of the better division record, which would be the tie-breaker after head-to-head (tied 2-2). Why does it matter? Because the #4 seed gets Miami in Round Two. Tyson Chandler's absence over the next week may prove to be the difference in which team secures the #3 seed.
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