Philadelphia (40-38) at Indiana (43-35)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Indianapolis, IN
Temp: 19° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EDT Fri Apr 15, 2005
  • TV: FSMW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers look to tighten their grip on a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference as they visit the postseason-bound Indiana Pacers at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Iverson scored 38 points and handed out 16 assists to lead Philadelphia to a 126-119 overtime win over the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat on Thursday.

The Sixers won for the fifth time in six games. With Cleveland’s 95-89 loss to New York, Philadelphia tied the Cavaliers for seventh in the East standings.

The Sixers hold the tiebreaker advantage with three wins over the Cavs this season.

The next two games will go a long way toward deciding Philadelphia’s fate. They play at Indiana on Friday and at New Jersey on Sunday before ending the season with games against non-playoff contenders Milwaukee and Atlanta.

The Nets trail the Sixers and Cavs by two games for the final two playoff spots.

“It’s like a do-or-die situation,” Iverson said. “A loss here or there and we could be out of the playoffs. We understand that.”

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Pacers were still fighting just to get in the playoffs. Now, they want to complete their comeback by winning an NBA title in Reggie Miller’s final season.

“It definitely feels good to be in the playoffs,” said Indiana’s Stephen Jackson. “Sending Reggie off on a good note is definitely on my mind.”

The Pacers have won eight of their last nine, and 14 of 18 at home to move into a tie with Washington for fifth place in the East. Indiana trails Chicago by one game for fourth place. The top four teams get homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Miller scored seven points down the stretch in another of his patented late shooting flurries Wednesday, helping the Pacers rally from a six-point deficit to beat New Jersey 90-86 and clinch an eighth straight playoff berth.

“Reggie is such a class guy and such a professional and such a great teammate, you definitely don’t want to let him down,” Indiana guard Anthony Johnson said. “A lot of it has to do with him and trying to send him out the right way.”

The 39-year-old Miller has returned to All-Star form, averaging 20.2 points since Jermaine O’Neal went down with a shoulder injury 21 games ago.

“No matter what happens in the playoffs from here on out, this franchise, this organization and myself will be champions,” Miller said Wednesday. “Truthfully, I feel like I’ve won the lottery.”

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