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The Walking East: Pacers improving while keeping playoff hopes alive

The Pacers are among a zombie pack of potential playoff teams in the East where they can endure lethal-looking losing streaks but remain a small winning streak away from a playoff spot. The Pacers

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Challenges remain on the horizon for the Pacers, but with a healthy starting unit gives the team a chance to gather momentum with the All-Star break looming at the end of next week.

Roy Hibbert has been making a consistent positive impact of late and George Hill's return has helped smooth out the edges on both ends of the court. If the playoffs remain a goal, now is the time to begin making a push. Yes, even with LeBron James and the red-hot Cavs arriving at the Fieldhouse on Friday.

"If you build some momentum going into [the break], sometimes you come out of [the break] with momentum," Hill said. "One thing we don't want to do is go into the break on a downward spiral. We've already been going down, so the only thing we can do is get better from here."

The Pacers have a challenging schedule facing them before what is now All-Star week (the Pacers will have eight full days off between games), with Cleveland and San Antonio at home and road games against Charlotte and New Orleans. Playing well is in the eye of the beholder, but winning is the best way to build momentum, so scrounging up a 2-2 finish before the break would be an improvement to build on after the break.

While it may feel like last gasp time to build momentum, with the trade deadline moving into view, there is still plenty of playoff life in the Pacers.

"We're only three or four games out," Hill said. "It's never over in the East."

Ah, the East where you can still simultaneously look forward to the playoffs and mock NBA drat lists in February. Consider it "The Walking East" since no matter what kind of losing streak most teams endure their playoff hopes remain alive.

Check out the links:

Paul George Talks to Media | Indiana Pacers

Game Preview: Pacers vs Cavaliers | Indiana Pacers

Cavaliers-Pacers Preview - AP

VIDEO: Paul George playing 2-on-2 | Vigilant Sports

Paul George's goal: practicing in a month

Final Score: Cleveland Cavaliers sink Los Angeles Clippers 105-94 behind gigantic second quarter - Fear The Sword

NBA scores 2015: Cavaliers earn 12th-straight win and 3 other things we learned -

What's the real deal with George, Colts, Pacers? | WFNI ESPN 1070 the Fan | Indy's SportsCenter

What Roy Hibbert's Shot Selection Says About the Pacers

Indiana baseball legend trades horsehide for harmonica