Entering the night with a chance to clinch the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, the Indiana Pacers saw both necessary scenarios come into fruition as they took care of business against the New York Knicks at home while the Detroit Pistons fell late to the Miami Heat at home, clinching a first round matchup against the Toronto Raptors.
While Indiana looked to return to playoff form this season, the Raptors had a franchise best season, currently sitting at 55-26, locking up the second seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. The Raptors won the season series between the two teams 3-1, sending the Pacers full circle after opening their regular season against the Raptors in Toronto.
In that opening meeting, the Raptors outscored Indiana 35-23 in the third, but Indiana fought back in the fourth to tie the game up 95-95, before losing 106-99 in what was an eerily similar way the Pacers managed to lose a lot of games all season. Indiana rebounded in the teams' second meeting, with a 26-5 blitzing to open the game in Indianapolis setting the tone for an easy 106-90 Pacers win.
The third meeting was a capsule of Indiana's frustrating season, with missed free throws by Monta Ellis late giving away a win in overtime. The Pacers were outshot at the free throw line 38-23 in the loss. In the final meeting in Toronto, it was the Pacers who had a not-so-pleasant no-show against the Raptors reserves, losing in disappointing fashion 111-98.
The Raptors will be justifiably favored, but the Pacers had opportunities throughout the series to swing it in their favor, something they'll have a chance to rectify in the the two teams' first ever postseason meeting. Game 1 in Toronto will tip off this weekend, with further details being released following the conclusion of the NBA regular season tomorrow.