Indiana Pacers Are Back in Playoffs for First Time Since 2006

No NameAnalyst IApril 6, 2011

Last night, confetti fell from the rafters at Conseco Fieldhouse, as the Texas A&M Aggies women's team won the NCAA National Championship.

Tonight, a different type of confetti is falling at Conseco.

Indiana is back in the Playoffs.

For the past five years, the Indiana Pacers have ended their season without a taste of the postseason. This year, they will keep playing once the regular season comes to a conclusion.

Tonight, the Indiana Pacers crushed the Washington Wizards, 136-112.

With the Charlotte Bobcats losing in overtime tonight, the Pacers have officially clinched a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, as they still have three games remaining on the schedule.

While the Pacers ended their beatdown of the Wizards, the staff at Conseco Fieldhouse put the Bobcats game on the Jumbotron.

Many fans stayed to cheer to the Magic on to a 111-102 win.

The last time the Pacers were in the playoffs was 2006, when they lost in the first round to the New Jersey Nets, four games to two.

Now, they will face their central division rival Chicago Bulls in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. The Bulls won the regular season series 3-1 over Indiana.

Tonight, there was virtually no defense in a game between the Pacers and Wizards. The two teams combined for 248 points.

There were 11 players that scored in double figures in this game, including all five starters for Indiana.

Pacers rookie Paul George scored a career-high 23 points, to go along with six rebounds and four assists. He was five of six from three-point range on the night. Danny Granger scored 25 for the Pacers and Darren Collison notched another double-double with 15 points and 11 assists.

The Pacers shot well tonight, hitting 60 percent of all of their field goal attempts. They were also 13 of 24 from behind the arc, which put them at 54 percent from that range.

They moved the ball well, totaling 32 assists on 50 shot attempts. Darren Collison had more assists than the entire Wizards team combined.

The last time Conseco Fieldhouse saw an NBA playoff game was May 4, 2006 when the New Jersey Nets won by six points in Game 6 of their first round series.

Despite 40 points from ex-Pacer Anthony Johnson, the Nets moved on where they would lose the next round to the eventual NBA Champion Miami Heat.

The Pacers box office is proud to announce that they will begin selling playoff tickets for this first round match up tomorrow (Thursday) at noon. Not many people will give them a chance to win even a game in this series, but I believe this team will compete hard and could possibly win a game in this series.

The main thing they need to be able to take away from this experience is just that: experience.

Getting some experience in the NBA Playoffs will only help this young team as it continues to build for the future.

Despite already clinching a playoff berth, the Pacers still have three regular season games remaining.

They will face the Hawks on Friday night, the Knicks on Sunday and then wrap up the regular season a week from tonight in Orlando. All of these teams have qualified for the Playoffs in the East.

The anxiety is now over with and we can now breathe a sigh of relief.

If they had blown this lead and missed the playoffs yet again, the franchise would have been in turmoil, especially with so many people having their contracts up at the end of the season.

Clinching a spot tonight was the best thing that could have happened for this team.

Hopefully, the city will embrace this team like they have the Butler Bulldogs the past two seasons and the Indianapolis Colts since No. 18 started taking snaps under Center.

There is a bright future ahead for this team, and it begins now.