Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
The Pacers currently have a one-game lead on the New York Knicks and a two-game edge over the Brooklyn Nets for the No. 2 seed.
Retaining that spot is doable, but the Pacers do face nine playoff teams in their last 14 games. They also go head-to-head with both the Knicks and Nets during the final six days of the regular season.
The Knicks, meanwhile, have a much bigger issue: Nobody is healthy.
Amar'e Stoudemire is likely done for at least the rest of the regular season after undergoing knee surgery on March 11. Carmelo Anthony missed six games in March due to knee problems of his own.
Tyson Chandler has missed four straight games with a bulging disc. Kurt Thomas may be done for the year (or ever) with a stress fracture in his foot. And Rasheed Wallace is done for the season due to a different foot injury.
Good luck making a deep playoff run with no healthy bodies.
For their part, the Nets will have an easier time fielding a team, but they are currently two games into a brutal eight-game road trip. They will play nine of their final games on the road—including one in Indiana.
While the No. 2 seed is the goal for all three of these teams, the most unfortunate fate will be finishing fourth.
Both teams that end in the No. 2 and No. 3 spots will avoid the Miami Heat until the Eastern Conference Finals, but the fourth seed, if it survives its first postseason matchup, will have to head to South Beach in the second round.