As of this publication, the Heat and Pacers sit "tied" atop the East, although if the playoffs started today the Heat would hold the #1 seed thanks to their higher winning percentage. The Pacers have played two more games than the Heat, and have split them, giving them one more win and one more loss than the Heat.
The Pacers are playing, far and away, their worst basketball of the season right now. Before Wednesday night's win over the Pistons, Indiana had dropped 5 of 6 and only broke 80 points one time during that stretch (an 84-83 victory over - of course - the Heat). Here's how the Pacers schedule breaks down for the remainder of the season, equipped with some totally objective analysis.
At Toronto (4/4) --> The Raptors are 23-18 at home this season, and Indiana is just 19-18 on the road. The win over Detroit was nice, but let's not forget that the Pistons just lost to the 76ers. By 25. I don't think they're out of the woods yet. Loss. 53-24.
Vs. Atlanta (4/6) --> I don't think the Hawks care much about making the playoffs, so losing games essentially helps them at this point. Atlanta is just 11-27 away from home and the Pacers have lost a mere 5 times in Indy this season. Win. 54-24.
At Milwaukee (4/9) --> The 76ers lost 26 straight. The Bucks still have a worse record. Win. 55-24.
At Miami (4/11) --> Depending on what the standings look like at this point, I wonder if either team will make a psychological play and sit some starters. Either way, my pick here is kind of obvious. Loss. 55-25.
Vs. Oklahoma City (4/13) --> The Thunder will, presumably, not be sitting anybody, as they will probably jostle for position in the West until the last day of the season. Can I just say this is a homer pick and move on? Loss. 55-26.
At Orlando (4/16) --> I doubt they close the season losing three straight. Win. 56-26.
After playing their worst basketball of the season, the Heat appear to have found their rhythm a little bit, winning four straight with some very winnable games coming up. Here's how I see their season ending.
Vs. Minnesota (4/4) --> Minnesota isn't a great road team, and I think the Heat have put their coasting tendencies behind them. Win. 53-22.
Vs. New York (4/6) --> The Knicks always play the Heat tough, and they're currently fighting for the #8 seed in the East. This has all the makings of a classic regular season Knicks - Heat game, which usually don't end so well for the Heat faithful. I feel like this one will be different. We'll see. Win. 54-22.
Vs. Brooklyn (4/8) --> The Heat won't stand for losing to this team four times in one season. Win. 55-22.
At Memphis (4/9) --> Second night of a home - road back to back. Not usually great winning conditions, especially against a team like Memphis. Loss. 55-23.
Vs. Indiana (4/11) --> See above. Win. 56-23.
At Atlanta (4/12) --> Second night of a home - road back to back ... Again ... But Atlanta ain't exactly Memphis. Win. 57-23. Heat clinch 1st in the East.
At Washington (4/14) --> /Every important Heat player mysteriously comes down with an illness. /Washington beats Miami's reserves by 20. Loss. 57-24.
Vs. Philadelphia (4/16) --> James Jones scores 45 points against a team trying to lose. You heard it here first. Win. 58-24.
So there you have it.
Take it to the bank.
I have no idea what I'm talking about.