The teams meet for the third time this season and first at Conseco Fieldhouse as they look to draw closer to a postseason berth Wednesday.
Indiana (26-41) has a two-game lead in the East over the Bobcats (24-43), who are among several teams trying to catch Atlanta and New Jersey for the final two spots. The Pacers, however, are 5-11 in their last 16 games, while Charlotte comes in looking to snap a four-game losing streak.
Dunleavy, averaging 18.4 points on the season, has scored 30 or more eight times this season, including four times in the last 10 games.
“It’s very important to me,” Dunleavy told the Pacers’ official Web site about making the postseason. “I’ve been in the league five full seasons and not made it to the playoffs. This is year six and I want to get there. I’m tired of watching them when the season’s over. So these last 15 games I’m going to continue to put it out there and do everything I can to get this team into that eighth or maybe seventh spot.”
The Pacers will be trying to win back-to-back games for just the third time since Dec. 21. Indiana closes this three-game homestand against Minnesota - one of the Western Conference’s worst teams - on Friday before heading to Chicago, another team battling for a playoff spot.
Despite facing a slumping Bobcats club, coach Jim O’Brien says his Pacers won’t take anyone for granted - especially since Indiana has lost twice this season to Charlotte, although both defeats came on the road.
“I think that would be foolish … considering the struggles that we have hand,” O’Brien said. “When you’re 26-41 and you’re playing against a team that’s about the same as you are, you’d better just think about trying to be one up at the end of the game.”
The Bobcats’ skid follows a five-game win streak that vaulted them into the playoff mix in the weak East. Charlotte is coming off a 98-80 defeat to Memphis on Monday.
After losing the night before to Cleveland, the Bobcats struggled against one of the West’s worst teams, shooting 40.8 percent and committing 18 turnovers. Derek Anderson scored 17 points and Jared Dudley added 14, but leading scorer Jason Richardson had just eight points on 4-of-18 shooting.
“Our guys were tired tonight,” Gerald Wallace said. “This was a winnable game for us, but we let it go. We have to come back the next night and play strong.”
Wednesday is the finale of a season-high six-game trip for the Bobcats, who face Miami at home Saturday before playing their next four on the road. Charlotte is 6-26 on the road this season.