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Pacers Links: After All-Star break it is go time for the Pacers

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The Pacers went into the NBA All-Star break like a team in desperate need of a few days to rest and reset. Now they need to emerge from the time off with a renewed focus on their goals for the regular season.

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Christian Petersen

The Pacers are in the midst of a remarkable regular season as they prepare to return to action against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday after a few days off for the All-Star break. So remarkable, in fact, that the Pacers actually limped into the break, losing five of their last 12 games and still were able to rest on a 40-12 record for the season.

Prior to the Pacers last road trip, David West indicated the team wanted to finish strong before the break, knowing that after their last real chance to rest they would have to ramp up the level of intensity to achieve their regular season goal of earning the top seed in the East.

Well, the first part of that equation fell victim to the dog days of the NBA season clashing with human nature, but now it is truly "go time" for the Pacers as they emerge from the break with a favorable schedule while the Miami Heat face a much tougher schedule over the next ten games.

The Pacers already blew a great opportunity to expand their current 2.5 game lead over the Heat to at least 4.5 before the break. So if they don't expand the lead over the next 10 games, earning that top seed is going to be a struggle if LeBron James continues to play at the ridiculous level he has of late.

I discussed this topic and more on The Phil Naessens Show so have a listen.

Check out the links:

All-Star Game Rewind: East 163, West 155 | THE OFFICIAL SITE OF THE INDIANA PACERS

Exclusive: PG and Roy Interview Each Other | THE OFFICIAL SITE OF THE INDIANA PACERS

Five keys for Pacers down the stretch - 1070 The Fan

The best and worst of NBA fashion during All-Star Weekend

Miami Heat 'Fast Five': Chasing Pacers, Gary Payton on Dwyane Wade and More

Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert not flashy, but still an All-Star |

Fresno State's Paul George quickly joins NBA's elite with Indiana Pacers | Visalia Times-Delta and Tulare Advance-Register |

Trade Deadline: Latest buzz around NBA | The Point Forward -

Roy Hibbert and LaMarcus Aldridge 'vindicated' with All-Star recognition -

76ers, Bucks, Celtics expected to be active at NBA trade deadline - NBA - Ian Thomsen -

NBA power rankings 2014: Thunder on top at All-Star break -

NBA open to idea of expanding All-Star break to a week | ProBasketballTalk