The Indiana Pacers enjoyed their Friday off day with a chance to practice and prepare to play the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night. They also had a chance to check out a couple of important games that will have an impact on the final seeding among Eastern Conference playoff teams.
The Pacers still need to beat Philadelphia to clinch the third seed in the East after the Atlanta Hawks beat a short-handed Boston Celtics team in Atlanta. The Hawks will have home court advantage against the Celtics and can no longer be accused of dumping games in order to drop to a sixth seed for a matchup with the Pacers. Smart move.
The New York Knicks wouldn't mind moving up from the seventh seed to face the Pacers but they ruined those plans by dumping a game to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Amare Stoudemire returned from a back injury for the loss which will surely cause some back page angst among the tabloids in New York on Saturday morning.
Speaking of back injuries, the New York loss and Atlanta win helped solidify Orlando's position as the sixth seed and the team most likely to play the Pacers in round one. The Magic will be without Dwight Howard who is out for the remainder of the year after having surgery on his back on Friday.
Fortunately, according to reports, Howard's surgery was a success so he should be able to return...next year. That's equally good news for the Pacers playoff hopes...this year. The healthy Magic players have adopted a "we all we got" mantra as they continue to hang in without their superstar center.
So, at the end of the day (literally), the Pacers had a pretty productive off day.
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