The Pacers tipped off their game against the Nets on Tuesday night in full control of their playoff destiny. Winning games against Brooklyn, Boston, Charlotte and Miami this week would've strengthened their spot in the standings and keep them in control.
But after digging an early hole and then coming up dry down the stretch, the Pacers lost to the Nets and also lost control of their playoff destiny. Winning the next three will help greatly but the Pacers will still need help which may be hard to come by.
The Pacers are now 1.5 games behind the Nets for the final spot and a win in Boston tonight likely won't change that deficit since Brooklyn plays the Knicks at the same time. Math will keep the Pacers alive but they need help and also need to help themselves by maintaining a sense of urgency to win upcoming games.
They showed that urgency in Brooklyn, but frankly didn't have the horses to match up with the Nets who have found their stride of late. The difference was glaring in the final two minutes when the Pacers blundered two critical possessions, failing to get even a decent shot up, while the Nets leaned on Joe Johnson to get two buckets to separate for the win.
The key now, as they face a Celtics team without the same caliber of horses, will be to stay strong and keep fighting...and then keep an eye on the league scoreboard.
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