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IC Cold Links: Carmelo Anthony Trade Could Change Things In East, Pacers Have Spotlight After Colts Loss

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Needless to say the Indiana Pacers have been struggling of late. But outside of the hard-core faithful, those struggles have happened largely under the radar.

Consider that the Pacers are 1-6 in their last seven games, but four of those seven games weren't televised. Meanwhile the Indianapolis Colts made a late run into the playoffs and had everyone's attention right up until the last play of their game Saturday night, when Nick Folk and the New York Jets kicked them out of the playoffs.

So now the Pacers have a brief window of opportunity to capture the attention of some casual fans looking for a diversion from thinking about timeouts and missed opportunities by the Colts. With three games this week, including two tough home games against Dallas and Chicago, the Pacers can start moving things back in the right direction before embarking on their final West Coast road trip next week.

First they need to take care of business against the Philadelphia 76ers tomorrow night in Philly, sight of one of the Pacers' worst performances of the year thus far, which is saying something. A road win in Philly and a split of the tough home games could snap the Blue and Gold out of their losing ways and keep them thinking playoffs. (I realilze this is an overly positive outlook, but the negative state of things is express quite well around here, so bear with me.)

Also, aside from cranking up some local interest in the team, the Pacers could quickly slip down the slope of playoff contention if they don't win a few games soon. The fact that they haven't already is a testament to the weak middle of the East, but if the pending deal to send Carmelo Anthony and friends (including Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton) to the Nets goes through then the New Jersey could add their name to the list of playoff contenders this year.

The Nets would be built to win right now (actually, they'd be built to win about four years ago) and it wouldn't take much more winning to jump into the playoff fray. If it does happen, hopefully the deal is finalized before the Pacers play the Denver Nuggets on their road trip. Future draft picks are a lot easier to defend than Melo and Chauncey.

But none of these external forces matter if the Pacers can't take care of what they control and find that winning flow they played with earlier in the season.