If Paul Pierce truly hates the Nets, he left tonight’s loss with a smile on his face.
Pierce’s Washington Wizards, locked into the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, fell to the Indiana Pacers in an ugly double-overtime game on TNT, 99-95. The win helps the Pacers maintain their control over the eighth seed in the NBA playoffs, which could spell doom for the Nets’ season. The Pacers can clinch the eighth seed with a win over the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday night, or with a Nets loss to the Orlando Magic.
The victory also eliminates the Miami Heat from playoff contention.
The good news for the Nets: the Grizzlies have motivation to win, and the Pacers will have to travel to Memphis to play the second half of a back-to-back following a double-overtime game. if they do, they’ve got a much better chance at securing the fifth seed, and since they have a better record than the fourth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers, they’d earn home-court advantage[note]The Trail Blazers won their division, which guarantees you at least the fourth seed. It does *not* guarantee you home-court advantage. Yes, you’re correct, it is a very weird rule.[/note]. If the Grizzlies lose, they are guaranteed the sixth seed, which means no chance at home-court advantage. Here’s more info on the West’s standings, via CBS’s Matt Moore.
The Magic will have the fifth-worst record in the NBA no matter what happens, so interim head coach James Borrego doesn’t have any incentive to rest his players in the hopes of securing a higher draft pick.
As for Pierce, he went scoreless for just the third time in a career spanning 1,250 regular season and 148 playoff games. He was hardly the only reason the Wizards lost — he sat the entire fourth quarter and both overtimes. But it wasn’t the first time Pierce showed up small in a game that could’ve affected a nemesis, either: on April 11th of last season, Pierce missed two free throws and a three-pointer late in the fourth quarter with the Nets down three to the Atlanta Hawks, which put the Hawks two games ahead of the New York Knicks.
Pacers-Grizzlies kicks off at 9:30 P.M. EDT Wednesday, right about the time Nets-Magic should finish up. A frantic finish lies ahead… As if you expected anything less.