Sunday , Mar , 05 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Can the Pacers stop A.I., keep pace in East?

(Sports Network) – In what could be a possible first-round matchup in the
2005-06 playoffs, the Indiana Pacers will take on Philadelphia Sunday and
try to exorcise the demons against their conference foe.

The Pacers, currently seeded fifth in the Eastern Conference playoff race,
have lost five a row against Philadelphia, which is one-half game behind as
the sixth seed.

If Indiana has any plans for a long postseason run, it must figure out Allen
Iverson and the surging 76ers at the Wachovia Center.

Philadelphia is creeping up on the Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey Nets
and has gone 5-1 since the All-Star break. Iverson is averaging 43.5 points
and 11.0 assists over his last two games and had a game-high 29 points in
a 111-109 win over the Pacers on November 5 this season.

Indiana, though, is hurting with Austin Croshere recovering from a concussion,
while guard Jamaal Tinsley (elbow) and forward Jermaine O’Neal (groin) are
still sidelined indefinitely.

However, Peja Stojakovic has been a bright spot for the squad.

Averaging 22.6 points over his last five games, Stojakovic scored 24 points
for Indiana in a 99-98 loss to the Boston Celtics on Friday.

Indiana, which had a two-game winning streak come to an end, is 2-7 in its
last nine road tilts and has an 11-17 mark as the guest this season. It is 2-1
on its current four-game road trip.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, will play the Pacers again at Conseco Fieldhouse on
March 26. Indiana has lost two straight and three of five in Philly.