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Playoffs Might Be Not Be That Hard To Miss, After All

by Conrad Brunner || Caught in the Web Archive

December 30, 2010

I have to admit, I've been laboring under a misperception:

That, thanks to a dearth of competitors around them, it would be difficult for the Pacers to miss the playoffs this season.

Turns it, it might not be that hard at all.

Even as the Pacers have slogged through December, there has been solace in the standings. They've lost seven of nine, but have not dropped a single slot in the Eastern Conference. There they are today, still in seventh.

And yet Wednesday's loss in Washington was an eye-opener. Not just because the worst team in the East shot less than 40 percent at home and still beat the Pacers handily. But because the talent gap between the Pacers and the worst team in the East is negligible.

Take a look at the Wizards' top eight: John Wall, Nick Young, Josh Howard, Rashard Lewis, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and Kirk Hinrch.

Compare that to Darren Collison, Mike Dunleavy, Danny Granger, Josh McRoberts, Roy Hibbert, Brandon Rush, T.J. Ford and Solomon Jones.

See much of a disparity there?

Me neither.

The point being: the Pacers may feel relatively comfortable in their status as a playoff contender, but maybe they shouldn't. Maybe they should start to comprehend that the Bucks, Sixers, Bobcats – and yes, the Wizards -- have enough weapons to climb past them.

Just six games separate seventh from 15th in the East. Philadelphia and Milwaukee are one game behind the Pacers, Charlotte two.

What was a solid playoff position entering December has eroded considerably.

If the Pacers are looking around for reasons to start approaching each game with a heightened sense of urgency, maybe they should do what I did, and take a long look at the standings.