With a dramatic 99-95 double overtime win over the Washington Wizards, the Indiana Pacers are one step closer towards making the playoffs while their win also meant the Miami Heat don’t have any chance anymore of making the postseason.
The Pacers with the win advance to 8th in the East, 0.5 games above the Brooklyn Nets. The only way the Pacers don’t make the postseason is if they lose and the Nets, who have a much easier game ahead of them, win, triggering the head-to-head tiebreaker which the Nets have an advantage of. Any other combination of results puts the Pacers in the postseason, set up to meet the Atlanta Hawks.
And it took them 58 minutes of basketball to get there. The Wizards are going to finish fifth in the East regardless of what happened in this game, but they managed to put up quite a fight, possibly trying to keep their players as sharp as possible for the postseason. We got to overtime thanks to a John Wall layup with 51 seconds left in the game, followed by two misses by Wall in the final six seconds of regulation, failing to put the game away.
In the first overtime a 20-foot jumper from Paul George with 22 seconds on the clock tied the game at 85-85. George got one more chance before the buzzer but missed a 3-pointer, sending the game into a second overtime. A David West jumper followed by a George Hill 3-pointer gave the Pacers a five point lead with 27 seconds to go, and the Wizards failed to bounce back from that.
C.J. Miles scored 25 points and George Hill added 24. The backcourt is carrying the Pacers’ sluggish offense and usually their shooting days will determine how well things go for them in the playoffs against a team that runs things a lot more smoothly. Paul George did hit a big basket, but finished with 10 points in 18 minutes. Rodney Stuckey proved once again he can’t be trusted, scoring 10 points on 3-of-11 from the field.
The Pacers aren’t there yet, but they’re inches away and don’t have to rely on anyone else to finish the job. The final game of the season is against Memphis, making it a very difficult closer to pull through, but it will be quite an achievement after the kind of offseason and regular season they had to recover from. No one is saying it out loud, but no one from the higher seeds in the East actually wanted to go through them in the playoffs, hence the Cavaliers doing all they could to help the Celtics out.