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Time for Pacers to Close The Deal

by Conrad Brunner || Caught in the Web Archive

March 24, 2011

They have a three-game lead. They have seven of their final 10 at home.

For the first time since 2006, the Pacers firmly control their playoff destiny.

A team fully conditioned to dealing with adversity now finds itself in a position of advantage. Can they handle success?

"We can’t be content," said Roy Hibbert. "We have to make sure we keep working and getting better because sometimes when we’ve had success in the past it has gone to our heads and we come out sluggish.

"We have some big games against Sacramento and Detroit so we have to be hungry still."

This weekend will be a big test for the Pacers. Sacramento did a huge favor by winning in Milwaukee Wednesday night but in the process the Kings also illustrated they are a team that poses a threat. Detroit pushed Miami to the wire before falling by six.

Beyond their penchant for slow starts, there is much to like about the way the Pacers have played through the last two weeks. With Tyler Hansbrough joining Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert to give the team a three-pronged threat, they have been a much more explosive team.

The defense has given strong indications of coming around, limiting three straight opponents to fewer than 100 points.

But now they must do something they haven't had the opportunity to do since 2006: close the deal.

They can smell the playoffs. But that's all it is, for now.

"I only tasted them once in my rookie year and we had an early exit," said Granger, "so to be in this position again, especially with the youth we have on this team is really special."

Dunleavy among players giving aid to Japan

Pacers guard Mike Dunleavy is among 20 NBA players committed to supporting Direct Relief International in its effort to help the people of Japan recover from the recent earthquake and tsunami.

Many of the players are donating $1,000 for every point their score in a designated game.

Because Dunleavy is currently inactive with a broken left thumb, he will make a set donation.

The donations will go to Direct Relief’s Japan Relief and Recovery Fund. Formed with the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), the Fund supports the immediate health needs of people by working with local authorities best situated to assess, respond, and prepare for the long-term recovery.