INDIANAPOLIS (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – The race for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference has come down to the final day of the season.
The Indiana Pacers look to clinch their sixth playoff berth in the last seven seasons when they host the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday in the final game of the regular season for both teams.
The Pacers, who have won four straight, enter the day in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, a game behind Milwaukee and one up on both Chicago (who hosts Brooklyn) and Miami (who hosts Washington).
The Pacers are in with a win or a loss by either the Bulls or the Heat, who are also at home Wednesday and tip off in their respective games at the same time.
The Hawks nailed down the fifth seed with Tuesday’s 103-76 rout of Charlotte, their fourth consecutive victory following a 2-9 swoon.
Atlanta will take on No. 4 seed Washington in a first-round series beginning this weekend, and it is likely that many regulars will get some rest in Indiana.
The home team has won the first two meetings, with Glenn Robinson III nailing a last-second 3-pointer to lift the Pacers to a 97-96 triumph last month.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN, FSN Southeast (Atlanta), FSN Indiana
ABOUT THE HAWKS (43-38): Atlanta already began to spread around the minutes by virtue of its easy win over the Hornets, as no player saw more than 26 minutes of action.
Guard Thabo Sefolosha (groin) was able to return and play 16 minutes following a six-game layoff while Paul Millsap (knee) was limited to 22 minutes and is a prime candidate to get Wednesday off.
Center Dwight Howard recorded his 53rd double-double Wednesday and he is averaging 19 points while making 16-of-21 shots over his last two games.
ABOUT THE PACERS (41-40): Paul George has keyed the four-game surge by averaging 30.5 points on 56.8 percent shooting – including 14-for-33 from long range – and he is hopeful that the solid finish is not wasted.
“This season has been up and down,” George told reporters. “For us to finally play some good basketball to finish this year out, it would suck to finally figure things out and put our finger on what we want to be and who we are this year and to not make it. That would suck. But, we’re in the driver’s seat right now.”
Center Kevin Seraphin had 17 points in 19 minutes in Monday’s 120-111 win at Philadelphia and has scored in double figures in a season-high three straight games.
- George is averaging 26 points in the two meetings with the Hawks.
- Atlanta F Mike Muscala is 15-for-18 from the floor over a three-game stretch.
- Robinson (calf) has missed 10 games in a row.
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