The Indiana Pacers look to extend their winning streak to a season-high six games, and move into a tie with the Washington Wizards for the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race when the teams conclude their season series.
Indiana’s five-game winning streak has moved it into sixth place in the East, where it trails Washington by one game and the Chicago Bulls by two. The Boston Celtics are a half-game behind the Wizards, but will be the No. 3 seed in the East assuming they hold on to win the Atlantic Division.
The Pacers extended their win streak and gave themselves a two-game lead over Cleveland in the conference with a 98-77 victory over the Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
“We’ve taken the approach that the playoffs really started in late March for us,” Miller said. “Right now, we are probably playing the best basketball we’ve played all year.”
The Pacers, who haven’t won six in a row since a seven-game run from Feb. 28-March 12, 2004, are 7-1 in their last eight contests.
“We want to go in the playoffs with some momentum,” said Jackson, averaging 24.5 points in the last six games. “We’re happy to be in the playoffs, but we want to win a championship.”
Indiana concludes the regular season against Chicago and still has games remaining against Philadelphia, New Jersey and Orlando—three teams within 4 1/2 games of the Pacers in the East.
“I really think it’s important to think about who’s next,” Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. “The guys are well aware of the standings board. We want to play well now, but we have to have a short-term memory, stay hungry and remember what got us in this position.”
Washington’s slide continued on Wednesday with its third straight loss, 105-93 to the Detroit Pistons.
“We just have to keep working,” Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. “We will practice and get things right, and we should have a lot of motivation going into Indiana. We know what is at stake. We know that we have to play at a higher level. We are trying to get wins, but it is a tight playoff race.”
Antawn Jamison (knee) sat out Wednesday, one day after scoring 30 points in his return from the injured list. Jamison is doubtful for Friday’s game.
“I don’t know if he’ll play, but I don’t think so,” Jordan said.