Monday, April 12, 2004

Pacers-Celtics rematch set

One playoff spot up for grabs in West

The Associated Press

The Indiana Pacers will get a rematch with the Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs after being eliminated by the Celtics in the first round last year.

The matchup was set Sunday after New Jersey beat Philadelphia 89-75, eliminating the 76ers from playoff contention. That allowed the idle Celtics to clinch the Eastern Conference's last remaining playoff spot.

"It'll be a tough series," said Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, whose team has home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. "But we know whoever we're going to play is going to be tough."

With two games remaining in the regular season - the first round of best-of-seven series begins Saturday - only one playoff spot is yet to be determined.

Denver (42-38), Utah (42-38) and Portland (41-39) are fighting for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

The top of the West is also muddled. Minnesota (56-24) holds the top seed, but Sacramento (55-25) moved within a game with a convincing 102-85 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday.

Sacramento needs just one more win or one Lakers loss to clinch its third straight Pacific Division title and the playoffs' second seed.

The top two seeds are the division winners, and the team with the best record receives home-court advantage.

The Lakers can do no worse than the fourth seed and home-court advantage in the first round.

Down the stretch

A look at the NBA playoff picture with two games to play:

Eastern Conference

• Two series are set: No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 8 Boston; No. 2 New Jersey vs. No. 7 New York.

• Milwaukee (41-39), Miami (40-40) and New Orleans (40-40) are battling for the No. 4 spot and home court.

Western Conference

• Minnesota (56-24) is a game ahead of Sacramento (55-25) for the top seed and home court throughout.

• Denver (42-38), Utah (42-38) and Portland (41-39) are fighting for the 8th spot.

Reds say foundation in place
Photos of Sunday's game
Relievers leave club stress-free
Kearns finally gets bat, ball to meet
Reds at Phillies series preview
Ephedra ban begins today
NL: Wood stymies Braves
AL: Ortiz bomb stops Jays in 12th
AAA: Louisville 12, Norfolk 3
Notes from Sunday's games

Daugherty: Fans share Lefty's joy
Just call him Major Mickelson - finally
Els is masterful, but it isn't enough
Another major comes and goes without Woods

For Cyclones, the plot took wrong twists
Kovalev's two goals pace Habs

Pacers-Celtics rematch set
After five years, Sixers' playoff run is finished

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