The Indiana Pacers may have clinched the Central Division for the first time since 2003-04, but needed help from Detroit to get it taken care of after a pair of blowout losses set the stage for Indiana's comeback against Cleveland. While winning the division is nice, it doesn't really have the same impact it does in other sports, but it's still only the fifth time in the team's NBA history they've accomplished this feat. To put it in perspective, they've made the Eastern Conference Finals more times than they've won their own division, so there is that.
What the division does help is in tiebreakers, where despite a couple of big gaffes against the Brooklyn Nets, the season series between the two will go in favor of Indiana should they finish with the same record. Indiana did themselves a huge favor by coming back against Cleveland, and will have a chance to avoid the four seed all together if they can build on Tuesday night's win against Cleveland and win.
With ample time off following their win against the Clippers, it's no real surprise most power rankings this week that didn't take into account the completion of the sweep and took a closer look at their fourth quarter collapse against Oklahoma City and their blowout loss to Washington, sending the Pacers down a couple of notches.
At this point, teams are what they are, and not as much weight is being put into teams like Indiana who are set up likely as the third seed, minimizing how much of the sky fell on the defense-less Pacers. Paul George showed signs of breaking out of one of his worst slumps of the year against Cleveland, hopefully setting up a strong close to the season that will get him, along with a rejuvenated Roy Hibbert ready for the second season.
NBA Basketball Power Rankings - National Basketball Association - ESPN
Marc Stein drops Indiana to 7th, showing some concern for the the performances in their back-to-back losses despite clinching the division crown.
As if the struggles for the #7 Pacers in their back-to-back losses weren't bad enough, their defensive effort in the four games leading into the Cleveland game was their worst of the season. Granted, it can be slightly skewed looking at a more offensive Western Conference doing a bulk of the damage.
Indiana plummets to No. 9, as Kurt Helin shows interest in a potential Pacers/Knicks second round series: Pacers D vs. Knicks O.
NBA Power Rankings - Top 30 NBA Basketball Teams - FOX Sports on MSN
The Pacers slip to #8, but Sam Amico likes what a successful Roy Hibbert can bring to a Pacers team that performs at a solid enough level.
2012-2013 Hollinger Power Rankings - ESPN
The Pacers are at No. 7 with a chance to make one final push in Hollinger's rankings with a pair of games this weekend.
Jeff Sagarin NBA ratings - USA TODAY
Indiana slips to 8th, now boasting a 9-11 record against the ever changing top ten.