Now that the playoffs are a certainty, the fans can think about where the Pacers will finish, who they will face in the first round, and when the games will be played.
Indiana's players will remain more focused on how well they are performing heading into the postseason because that, ultimately will be the most important factor in extending their run.
Shaking off a numbingly slow start, the Pacers dominated the final 31 minutes in rolling to a 102-83 rout of visiting Cleveland Friday before 13,356 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The victory clinched the second consecutive playoff berth for the Pacers (37-22), who hold the third seed in the East and appear -- at least for the moment -- headed for a first-round matchup with Orlando.
After falling behind by 14 in the first half, the Pacers dominated the third quarter 34-13 to take control and coast home. Cleveland (19-38) fell to 9-19 on the road.
Indiana's 7-1 record in April is the best in the NBA.
BY THE NUMBERS
Danny Granger scored 18 with four rebounds, three assists and two steals. George Hill had 15 points, seven assists and four rebounds in his third consecutive start at point guard. Roy Hibbert had 12 points and 10 rebounds for his 18th double-double of the season, adding a pair of blocked shots. None of the starters played in the fourth quarter. Off the bench, Tler Hansbrough scored 16 and Leandro Barbosa 13. The Pacers shot 41 percent and had 23 assists.
Omri Casspu came off the bench to lead Cleveland with 14 points. Antawn Jamison and Donald Sloan scored 12 apiece and Samardo Samuels had 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Cavs shot 35 percent and committed 19 turnovers.
"I challenged our guys to ramp up the defense a little bit. This is the time where good playoff teams start amping up their defense. They defended at a very high level." - Pacers Coach Frank Vogel
"We're in position but we're not there yet. We haven't accomplished anything yet. We still have some work to get done." - Vogel
"Nothing has changed for us. We've felt for awhile we were going to be in the playoffs, it was a matter of seeding and positioning and that is still as undetermined right now as it was before tonight's game. Until we secure homecourt advantage we can't let our guard down in any way, shape or form." - Vogel
"They have a bunch of guys up from the D-League that are playing extremely hard. We took their punch and then we gave it back to them." - Hibbert
"We're in control of our own destiny. We don't have to worry about whether this team or that team wins or loses. We're going about our business the right way." - Hibbert
"We're definitely in postseason mode right now. We really want to go into the playoffs hitting on all cylinders." - Granger
STAT OF THE GAME
After starting the game shooting 6-of-31 (.194) through the first 17 minutes and falling behind 32-18, the Pacers shot 31-of-59 (.525) the rest of the way and outscored the Cavs 84-51.
Indiana took control of the game right out of the locker room in the third quarter, locking down Cleveland defensively while locking in offensively. The Pacers went on a quick 15-3 run with Granger scoring the final seven as the Cavs started 1-of-13. It only got worse from there for Cleveland as the Pacers extended the lead by thoroughly dominating the period, outscoring the Cavs 34-13, holding them to 3-of-18 shooting and forcing five turnovers.|
In missing their first eight shots of the game, the Pacers set the tone for an ugly first half. They shot 6-of-31 in the first 17 minutes as the Cavs opened a 32-18 lead. Hill hit a 3-pointer that seemed to restore Indiana's offensive equilibrium and the Pacers made eight of their final 13 shots of the half, including a 3-pointer from Leandro Barbosa that cut the deficit to 43-41 at the half. Even with the hot finish, the Pacers shot 32 percent in the half with more turnovers (nine) than assists (eight).
The Pacers have held six consecutive opponents to less than 100 points, the second-longest active streak in the league. ... Kyrylo Fesenko made his Pacers debut in the fourth quarter after Lou Amundson fouled out. He played the final 6½ minutes. ... David West and Cleveland's Tristan Thompson picked up double-technicals for exchanging words early in the third quarter. ... Hill has totaled 50 points (16.7), 16 assists (5.3) and 14 rebounds (4.7) in starting the last three games in place of point guard Darren Collison, who has been bothered by a sore groin. ... Indiana improved to 7-0 when Barbosa scores in double figures and 16-4 when Hill does the same. ... Cleveland was without two starters, point guard Kyrie Irving (shoulder) and power forward Anderson Varejao (wrist), as well as backup center Semih Erden, who rolled his right ankle Wednesday night against the Pacers.
The Pacers travel to Milwaukee to face the Bucks Saturday (8:30 p.m., Fox Sports Indiana, WIBC 93 FM). Indiana has won the last three meetings, including a 125-104 victory in Milwaukee on March 24 in which the Pacers shot 51 percent and got 67 points from the second unit. That included a season-high 24 from Hill.