Pacers Secure Seventh Seed

Home win over the Knicks coupled with Pistons' home loss to Heat means Indiana will play Toronto Raptors in playoffs' first round.

The Detroit Pistons and Miami Heat were going down the wire in the Motor City in a game that had significance for the Indiana Pacers Tuesday night.

But the Pacers’ Solomon Hill wasn’t getting caught up in scoreboard watching. Even if the Pistons lost — which they did, enabling Indiana to clinch the Eastern Conference’s No. 7 playoff seed — Hill was going to have to play in Wednesday’s regular-season finale at Milwaukee anyway.

And if anyone has to play, he should play to win, “Solo” reminded. 

“I don’t really care,” Hill said of the other game. “We should do it on our own. We don’t want somebody to beat somebody else to get a certain seed.”

Most would be inclined to disagree, considering the Pacers securing the seventh seed means a first-round series against the second-seeded Toronto Raptors while the Pistons must face the top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James.

But Hill elaborated further to make his point after the Pacers took care of its half of the clinching scenario with a 102-90 home win over the New York Knicks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

“I don’t get the night off. I guess some people do, but we should have thought about that before,” Hill said of any teammates hoping for rest. “It shouldn’t come down to the last game to try and get one day of rest.”

He suggested the Pacers should play the finale like it mattered, although that’s probably not going to happen. All-Star Paul George said he would love getting a night off against the Bucks. He’s dealing with a sore ankle, so any time off is appreciated. Head coach Frank Vogel likely gives it to him.

George and point guard George Hill each scored a team-high 19 points against the Knicks. Hill logged 37 minutes, 19 seconds of playing time whereas George played 28 minutes, 40 seconds. The ideal scenario would have been for another blowout, as was the case Sunday at home against Brooklyn, so the regulars could sit down early.

But the Knicks, despite playing without Carmelo Anthony (rest?) and Kristaps Porzingis (shoulder), were a pain early. They didn’t miss. The Pacers trailed by seven after the opening quarter.

“I thought we played great defense,” George said of the Knicks shooting 65 percent in the first quarter, “they just made a lot of tough shots.”

The home team chipped away at that deficit as New York (32-50) led by only one at intermission before the Pacers enjoyed a 26-16 third quarter. There were no dramatics in the end as the Pacers bumped their record to 44-37.

The Pistons aspired to join them at that mark, but the home loss relegates them to the eighth seed because the Pacers win the head-to-head tiebreaker.

“It’s about getting as high as you can,” said reserve point guard Tywon Lawson, who had eight assists.

A short time later, the Pacers’ fate was known in what should have qualified as good news. They have officially avoided a playoff date with LeBron James next week.

Once more, with feeling, Solomon Hill didn't concern himself with that reality.

“I don’t care who it is,” Hill said. “You got to play them guys anyway (if Pacers advance). We don’t care about matchups.”

The Raptors, like the Cavs, had a 3-1 season series edge on the Pacers, although it’s fair to say the Pacers were competitive and kept it close in all but one of those games against each team.

“We’re the lower seed regardless, so it really doesn’t matter to us,” Hill said. “We know we’re on the road for the first two games. We’ve just got to make it happen.”

Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.

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