What appeared to be a fairly simple road trip against two terrible teams has proved to be anything but for the Indiana Pacers.
They needed a late run to scrape past the league's worst team and now look to defeat the New York Knicks for the sixth straight meeting Sunday night.
Indiana (40-36) needed a 19-4 run in the final 4:38 to rally for Saturday's 115-102 victory at Philadelphia. C.J. Miles scored 25 points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 3:39 left.
''We're satisfied with winning,'' said forward Paul George, who had 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. ''We're not satisfied with how we won.''
The Pacers hold the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot with a two-game lead over Chicago, which lost Saturday at home to Detroit. Indiana trails the seventh-place Pistons by one-half game.
Miles turned in his biggest effort since scoring 27 versus Brooklyn on Feb. 3. He made 9 of 14 shots, including five 3-pointers.
''Just playing within myself, doing what I do,'' Miles said. ''If I'm open, catch and shoot. If I'm not, try to read the closeout (by a defender) or get off of it, move as much as I can, run with these guys, because they push the ball and I know I can get shots in transition."
George's two 3-pointers gave him a career-best 200. He and notorious Knicks nemesis Reggie Miller are the only Pacers ever to record that many in a single season.
Even with the poor effort Saturday and despite a 5-10 mark in the second half of back-to-back games, the Pacers have to like their chances of sweeping this trip.
Indiana's five-game win streak over New York (31-46) includes a 108-105 victory Feb. 24, and two Knicks starters from that game may not see action.
Veteran point guard Jose Calderon sat out one game with a right quad contusion while rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis has missed two straight with a strained right shoulder. The Knicks may shut down both for the rest of the season, particularly Porzingis since he's one of the franchise's cornerstones.
Rookie Jerian Grant took over for Calderon on Friday in his first start and had 14 points in a 105-91 victory over the Nets that snapped a three-game slide. Langston Galloway led New York with 18, scoring 14 in the fourth quarter.
"It was fun to get the win, to start, to be a part of it, it was fun," Grant said.
The Knicks are reducing the minutes of their veterans down the stretch. Carmelo Anthony scored 13 in 25 minutes and no one played more than Robin Lopez's 29.
''I thought guys played very well, especially coming down the stretch, kind of just taking advantage of the minutes that were given to them,'' Anthony said.
Anthony is second in the NBA with 495 isolations. George entered Saturday with 315 as one of seven other players with at least 300.
Galloway, who averages 7.6 points, has totaled 36 in his last two games versus the Pacers.