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Indiana clinches No.1 seed in the Eastern Conference, Heat No.2

By Matt Moore | NBA writer

If the Heat and Pacers meet in the ECF, Game 7 will be in Indy.  (USATSI)
If the Heat and Pacers meet in the ECF, Game 7 will be in Indy. (USATSI)

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With Washington's blowout win over the Heat (with LeBron James and Chris Bosh sitting out for rest before the playoffs), the Indiana Pacers clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. It accomplishes a major goal for the Pacers, who spoke about wanting home court for a possible Eastern Conference Finals against Miami since the very start of the year.

It comes later than expected after Indiana got off to a raucous start to begin the year, holding a huge win advantage over nearly every team in the league. But a late-season swoon that started in earnest in early February lead to them battling back and forth for much of March and April with Miami for the top seed. Despite Miami's victory over the Pacers last Friday to give them control of their own destiny, the Heat turned around and lost a back to back vs. the Hawks last Saturday, clinching tiebreaker advantage for Indiana via conference record.

So Indiana clinches the No. 1 seed in the East and will play Atlanta in the first round. From there, it's a probable second-round matchup with the winner of Chicago and Brooklyn. (Washington is still in play for the fifth seed and Chicago will still have a chance Wedneday to take the 3rd seed.) Miami is likely to face Charlotte which will provide a tough young team of defenders who lack the offensive firepower to keep up in a series.

The Pacers seem to have a little momentum coming off their win vs. the Thunder Sunday, but still aren't the fearsome team they were to start the year. We'll see whether obtaining their goal they worked so hard for helps them get back on track.

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