Indiana Pacers playoff scenarios on final day of 2023-24 regular season

The Pacers can clinch a playoff spot tomorrow
Jan 25, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin (00) shoots the ball.
Jan 25, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin (00) shoots the ball. / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers enter the final day of the 2023-24 regular season with a simple path to the postseason. If they beat the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, they'll be in the Eastern Conference playoff field.

Right now, the blue and gold are in sixth place in the East via a three-way tie with the Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic at 46-35. The Miami Heat sit right behind them at 45-36. Those four teams currently occupy the fifth through eighth seeds in the conference, and the top-six groups earn a direct spot in the NBA playoffs.

The two teams in the seventh and eighth seeds will be in the Play-In Tournament, but nobody wants to be there. At that point, two losses ends a season and keeps a team out of the playoff field entirely.

"If you can avoid it, you want to be a top-six seed," Pacers star guard Tyrese Haliburton said of the Play-In Tournament. "We want to be in the playoffs, we don't want to be in the Play-In... that was our goal from the jump... that's our main focus."

The Pacers play the Hawks Sunday, a team they have beaten three times already this season. But Atlanta has no incentive to lose like other teams in the league, so Indiana will still need to play well to take them down. Philadelphia hosts the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday while Orlando welcomes the Milwaukee Bucks to town and Miami duels with the Toronto Raptors. All four games tip off at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Each outing is massive, but things are simple for Indiana. If they win, they will finish Sunday in the top-six of the Eastern Conference, and they will either be the sixth seed (if Orlando also wins) or the fifth seed (if Orlando loses).

They can also lose and secure a top-six spot in the East, but they would need some help. Should the Pacers lose, they would still end the regular season with the sixth seed if Orlando and Brooklyn win or if Milwaukee, Brooklyn, and Toronto all win. Not all hope is lost for the Pacers in defeat, but they would need a ton of help.

Between the 16 combinations of outcomes possible in the four games Indiana will keep a close eye on, 11 of them put the Pacers in the postseason. All of the possible outcomes can be seen in this chart from the NBA below.

"Sunday is what you play your whole season for. It's one game at home with an opportunity," Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said Friday night. "Atlanta is a good team, so we'll certainly have our hands full."

The Pacers had a chance to clinch a postseason berth on Friday night but fell in Cleveland. It was their first of up to four consecutive games they'll play in with that same opportunity — win, and earn a spot in the playoffs. It's a goal the team has been working toward all season, and they'll try to accomplish it again on Sunday.

  • Tyrese Haliburton sets Indiana Pacers single-season franchise assist record on a night the Pacers needed him. CLICK HERE.
  • The Pacers needed to be clutch and to win vs Miami Heat to keep playoff hopes alive. They got it done. CLICK HERE.
  • T.J. McConnell is reaching a new offensive peak and guiding Indiana Pacers to wins. CLICK HERE.
  • Indiana Pacers comeback effort falls short in road loss to Cleveland Cavaliers. CLICK HERE.
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Tony East


Tony East is the Publisher of AllPacers. He has previously written for Forbes Sports, the West Indianapolis Community News, WTHR, and more while hosting the Locked On Pacers podcast.