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Monday, March 28, 2011
Game 73: Celtics vs. Pacers

By Greg Payne

(51-21, 22-13 away)     -- vs. --     (32-42, 19-16 home)
at Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Ind., 7 p.m. | CSN, WEEI (850 AM)

PAYNE'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH
GAME PREVIEW (via Stats Inc.)
The Boston Celtics may be stumbling, but they're afforded the luxury of cruising into the playoffs with another Atlantic Division title. The Indiana Pacers don't have any margin for error if they're going to join them in the postseason.

The Pacers attempt to create some breathing room in the tight race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by snapping a five-game slide to the Celtics on Monday night.

Boston (50-21) has already clinched a fourth consecutive division title, so a 5-6 stretch heading into its final 10 games isn't overly concerning. The Celtics are only playing for seeding. They are second in the conference, two games behind first-place Chicago and one-half game in front of Miami for third.

The Pacers (32-42) aren't as comfortable, entering this game with a tenuous hold on eighth. Indiana is just one game ahead of ninth-place Charlotte and two in front of Milwaukee for 10th. Indiana has also played two more games than its pursuers, and its lead was put in further jeopardy following a 100-88 loss at Detroit on Saturday after falling 110-93 to Sacramento the previous night.

"We just gave away two games in the last two nights to two teams that wanted it more, and just let other teams right back in the hunt," forward Danny Granger said Saturday. "We have to step it up and if we don't we will be out of the playoffs."

Read the full preview HERE.