Indiana, tied with the New York Knicks for second place in the Eastern Conference, will start a four-game stretch with the Chicago Bulls on Sunday. The Pacers took the first two contests from their division rivals, but games between these two are always close and we shouldn’t expect anything to change this time around.
After two days off, the Pacers will then host what could be a first-round match-up at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, when the Boston Celtics come to town. Much like Chicago, the Celtics are missing their starting point guard, Rajon Rondo, but are still firmly in the playoff race and will be looking to upset whoever they draw early. Also, Boston is only two games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks for the seventh seed. With the Miami Heat running away from the rest of the conference, expect both Boston and Milwaukee to do everything in their power to avoid that eighth seed and the defending champs in the process.
After a stop in central Florida to take on the lowly Orlando Magic, the Pacers will then head south for a game against Miami. The Pacers will look to sweep the season series with the Heat after taking the first two contests. Since the last victory over Miami, the Heat have had to listen to the outside world claim the Pacers are the one legit club that can keep them from reaching The Finals this season. Expect LeBron James and company to have something to say about that eight days from now.
I imagine Indiana has its sights set on the second seed in the East. Keeping home-court advantage until what would be an Eastern conference finals trip is imperative. This four-game stint will go a long way in deciding just that.
Brandon Curry is an NBA writer for Rant Sports. Follow Brandon on Twitter @ByBrandonCurry