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Wizards-Pacers Preview

Washington Wizards forward Nene Hilario (42) shoots between Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) and Joakim Noah (13) as Mike Dunleavy (34) is near during the second half of Game 5 in an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series Tuesday, April 29, 2014 Photo:

Washington Wizards forward Nene Hilario (42) shoots between Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) and Joakim Noah (13) as Mike Dunleavy (34) is near during the second half of Game 5 in an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Indiana Pacers don't control their own destiny, but are making a strong push for a fifth straight playoff appearance after a rough three-week stretch.

With their fate all but determined, the Washington Wizards are looking to enter the postseason playing their best basketball.

Indiana seeks a sixth straight win Tuesday night against visiting Washington.

The Pacers (37-43) are one game behind seventh-place Boston, though obtaining that seed is virtually out of reach with the Celtics controlling the tiebreaker. To claim a playoff spot, Indiana needs to finish with a better record than Brooklyn after dropping the season series to the Nets. Indiana closes its season at Memphis on Wednesday.

Though the Pacers' fortunes are beyond their control, they're at least happy with how they're playing, averaging 106.0 points and shooting 43.9 percent from 3-point range in five straight wins. They closed out a 116-104 home win over Oklahoma City on Sunday on a 10-1 run.

"These guys have really stayed in the fight, had a great attitude and a great perspective to grind through the tough spots," coach Frank Vogel said. "You get in the playoffs, you've got a chance to go somewhere."

C.J. Miles matched a season high with 30 points and is 17 for 32 from deep over his last four games.

The Wizards (46-34) won 108-99 at home against Atlanta on Sunday, topping 45 victories for the first time since going 54-28 in 1978-79. They seemed to be trending in the wrong direction, going 10-18 from Jan. 28-March 29, but have since won five of six.

"We had a lot of ups and downs, letting a lot of wins slip away. I feel like this was easily a 50-win season," said John Wall, who scored 24 with nine assists after sitting out two contests to rest. "But we're happy where we are and the direction that we're going."

Though Wall's 17.6 points per game are his fewest in three seasons, his 10.0 assists per game and 2.6 assist-to-turnover ratio are career highs. Washington has averaged 28.2 assists over its last six games.

The Wizards are almost assured of the fifth seed and will face either Toronto or Chicago in the first round. Paul Pierce suggested that doesn't make this contest or Wednesday's finale at Cleveland any less important, however.

"We want to keep sharpening our tools preparing for the playoffs," said Pierce, who is 7 of 12 from beyond the arc in his last three games. "Still got a few things to sharpen up at ... The playoffs is a different game."

Indiana's last four wins have come with Paul George back in the mix. He's been inconsistent, scoring 10.3 points per game on 38.2 percent shooting while averaging 14.5 minutes, but dunked Sunday for the first time since returning from a broken leg.

"This is all tough. It's all new to me," he told the team's official website. "But every game I'm working towards improvement."

The Wizards won the first two meetings but lost 103-101 at home on March 25 despite Wall's season-high 34 points. He also scored 31 with 10 assists in a 96-94 overtime victory on Nov. 5.

Washington ended a 12-game losing streak in Indianapolis with a 97-90 victory on Nov. 8.

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