Pacers Clinch Spot in 2021 NBA Play-in Tournament; Can Earn Playoff Berth

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 12, 2021

Indiana Pacers' Caris LeVert (22) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers' George Hill (33) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

The Indiana Pacers are guaranteed a spot in the NBA's play-in tournament.

Indiana Pacers @Pacers

It's official. We're in. #AlwaysGame | https://t.co/VF0Dqyt49a https://t.co/dDqyLg46zz

Indiana defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 103-94 on Tuesday evening. Minutes later, the Brooklyn Nets' 115-107 victory over the Chicago Bulls sealed the Pacers' spot.

The Bulls were the only team who could jump into the top 10 of the Eastern Conference to knock the Pacers out of play-in contention.

The 29-40 Bulls can't catch the 33-36 Pacers now, though, as each team has just three regular-season games remaining.

Indiana is currently tied for eighth in the Eastern Conference standings. The top six in the East are guaranteed postseason berths, but the Pacers will have to play their way into the final eight-team playoff field.

Their best-case scenario is a 36-36 record, so they have no way to catch the 38-31 Miami Heat, who sit in sixth.

Indiana's best bet is finding its way into the Seven-Eight game, with the winner of that matchup guaranteed the No. 7 seed in the playoffs. Right now, the No. 7 Boston Celtics (35-34) sit ahead of the Pacers and Hornets, who have the same record.

If the Pacers can't finish top eight, they'll have to win the Nine-Ten game and then defeat the loser of the Seven-Eight contest to reach the playoffs.

Indiana is aiming to make the playoffs for the sixth straight season and 10th time in 11 years.