Pacers-Nets Preview

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The Eastern Conference race is set to come down to the wire, with five teams battling for the last two playoff spots. The Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets are in the mix, and Tuesday night's showdown at Barclays Center appears to be especially crucial with the season series on the line. Indiana (32-41) and Brooklyn (32-40) are neck-and-neck with Miami, Boston and Charlotte with two weeks left in the season, so capturing head-to-head tiebreakers could prove decisive. "It's weird," Pacers guard C.J. Miles told the team's official website. "I've never been in a situation like this, where so many teams are one game, half-game ... two losses can put you in 11th and two wins can put you in sixth. We know the importance. "It's like the (NCAA) tournament that's going on right now. Win or go home. That's the way we've got to treat it." Indiana had dropped six in a row before winning two of three, including a 104-99 victory over Dallas on Sunday. Miles led the way with 28 points, going 9 of 12 from the field and 5 for 6 from 3-point range as the Pacers shot a season-best 58.8 percent (10 of 17) from beyond the arc. "Everyone's got to put on their hard hats, go out there and continue to fight until the end of the game," said point guard George Hill, averaging 21.3 points over the last nine. "Every guy in this locker room made a great effort to give us a win tonight." Miles has averaged 23.3 points and 58.3 percent shooting over the last three games. The Nets are on the verge of a season-best fourth consecutive victory and eighth in 10 games after getting by the Los Angeles Lakers 107-99 on Sunday. Brook Lopez delivered another strong performance with 30 points and 11 rebounds as Brooklyn led start to finish. "Regardless of whatever the other team's situation is, we've just got to prepare night in and night out," said Lopez, who's averaged 28.8 points and 61.5 percent from the floor in the last six contests. "It's all on us. We can put ourselves in the playoffs if we just stick with it." Similar to last season, the Nets are looking to finish strong after a forgettable start. "It has been a trend, for whatever reason," point guard Deron Williams said. "I wish it was different, but as long as we get in the playoffs we feel like we've got a shot." The Nets snapped a five-game losing streak against the Pacers with a 123-111 road win March 21. Lopez led the way with 26 points on 11 of 14 shooting as Brooklyn made 61.3 percent from the floor to match its highest mark in 12 seasons. The Pacers won this season's first meeting 110-85 on Dec. 27 for their ninth victory in 11 road matchups in the series. Lopez was held scoreless and went 0 of 5 from the field, but he's averaged 20.4 points in his last 13 against Indiana. Pacers All-Star forward Paul George (broken leg) is still awaiting medical clearance before making his season debut. Brooklyn's Thaddeus Young is listed as questionable after missing the last two games with a knee injury.