Time keeps on slippin’ for the Pacers
(Sports Network) – The race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the
Eastern Conference is winding down, much like Indiana’s chances of reaching
the postseason for a 10th straight time.
Indiana hasn’t missed the playoffs since the 1996-97 campaign, and currently
sits a game behind the Orlando Magic. The Pacers are idle on Monday, but
the Magic will take on the Milwaukee Bucks tonight with a chance to widen the
The Pacers do not play Orlando anymore this season and will open a three-game
road trip on Tuesday against Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Miami. Playing on the
road has been a huge problem for Indiana this season, as it owns a 12-25
record away from Conseco Fieldhouse. Indiana has also dropped 11 of its
last 12 games as the visitor.
If head coach Rick Carlisle manages to guide his squad into the playoffs,
he better find a way to get his players motivated on the road. Even though
the Pacers play just two of their remaining six games as the visitor, every
game from here on out is vital.
It is also crucial for Indiana that star forward/center Jermaine O’Neal
regains his All-Star form. Despite being hampered by a knee and ankle injury
over the past few months, O’Neal still leads the team in scoring (19.6) and
rebounds (9.8). O’Neal has made just nine of his last 30 shot attempts,
spanning the past two games — both wins.
The Pacers haven’t won three straight since mid-February and will try for
their third consecutive victory on Tuesday against the 76ers at the Wachovia
Center. Tuesday’s showdown between Philadelphia and Indiana is the fourth and
final matchup of the regular season. The Pacers lead the series by a 2-1 count
and have won four of the last five encounters.
Indiana has won two straight, four of six and six of its last 10 trips to the
City of Brotherly Love.
On the injury front for the Pacers, guard Jamaal Tinsley has missed the last
two games with an elbow injury. Tinsley is averaging 13.0 points, 6.9 assists
and 3.3 rebounds in 70 games this season.