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Sixers 90, Pacers 86: Playoff Hopes Crumbling

When the walls come tumblin' down
When the walls come crumblin' crumblin'
When the walls come tumblin' tumblin' down
- John Mellencamp

The Pacers' playoff hopes came crumbling down one brick at a time in Philly. They tried to salvage a little respect with a furious run in the last six minutes of the game but couldn't make a stop or a shot when they needed it most late in the fourth, leaving the Pacers with a crushing, 90-86 loss.

And so, the Pacers clanked away a golden opportunity to stake their claim to a playoff spot. With the Pacers playing the Bucks and the Magic playing the Pistons tomorrow, a win tonight would've left the Pacers primed to tie up the Magic with four games to go.

What a mess of a game. The offense of Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy is a known key to any Pacer victory. Granger has been lighting it up and actually took the lead role from a struggling J.O. in the past two wins. Tonight he missed his first 13 shots and didn't make one until the fourth quarter run when complete desperation kicked in. J.O. wasn't doing much better before igniting the late run. Even with the late flurry of offense that provided 28 fourth quarter points, the Pacers sill shot 33% from the floor.

Now, about that late run. The Sixers didn't have their best offensive weapon in Andre Iguodala, which adds to the pain of this loss. The sad state of the Sixers was evident by how horribly the Pacers shot the ball yet were still able to hang within comeback range until a few shots started to drop. It looked like the Pacers were going to swoop in and take the game when they took the lead with 4:44 to go. The game went back and forth until Philly took the lead for good with 2:05 to go. So, what happened was, the Pacers played about four solid minutes and then came up lame for the final two minutes. Once again, the lack of a crunch time go to player burned the Pacers.

Can't say this thing is over yet, despite the signals from my brain. The Magic and Pacers both have three games I could call "losable", so it may come down to winning one of those games. First and foremost, the Pacers must beat Milwaukee tomorrow night since the Bucks are completely depleted and have absolutely no incentive to win. The Pacers proved tonight that incentive to win doesn't mean much if you can't put the ball in the hole and since they stay on the road, making shots will remain a concern. Just like their chances of making the playoffs.