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Pacers struggling down the stretch

Roy Hibbert and the Indiana Pacers are in a collective funk.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

After leading the Eastern Conference for the majority of 2014 season the Indiana Pacers have been leapfrogged by the Miami Heat in the conference standings.

Indiana loosening the stranglehold on the number one seed should cause panic in the Hoosier state. There is clearly a problem with the Pacers. The team is on a three game losing streak and has won just four of their last ten games.

Despite recent victories over teams like Miami and Chicago, Indiana has lost games to bad teams like Cleveland and New York.

What exactly is wrong with the Pacers is hard to detect. Players on the team were upset when longtime Pacer Danny Granger was traded to Philadelphia for Evan Turner. Losing Granger may have hurt the chemistry in the Pacers locker room.

Indiana also added Cleveland and Chicago castaway Andrew Bynum who is often injured and a known team cancer.

Pacers All-Star center Roy Hibbert called out his teammates for selfish player last week after a loss to the Wizards.

“Some selfish dudes in here,” Roy Hibbert said. “Some selfish dudes. I’m tired of talking about it. We’ve been talking about it for a month.”

Hibbert is most likely taking aim at Pacers wing players Paul George or Lance Stephenson. George, an MVP candidate at the start of the season, has been known to have tunnel vision during stretches of games. His one-on-one play is a gift and a curse for the Pacers.

Stephenson, a known hot head, has a propensity to get involved in personal battles on the court with opposing players. Stephenson is tied for third in the league in technical fouls with 14 infractions this season.

Time is ticking for the Indiana Pacers. It was imperative for them to have home court advantage if they return to the Eastern Conference Finals and face the Miami Heat. Last year’s match-up proved that the Pacers can’t beat the Heat in game 7 on the road. Now home court is escaping Indiana’s grasp.

Indiana has seven games remaining on their schedule with four of those on the road. Outside of cake walks against Detroit, Milwaukee, and Orlando the Pacers will face the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Toronto Raptors, and an Atlanta Hawks team that’s fighting for its playoff lives.

Six of Miami’s remaining nine games are against teams fighting for playoff positioning. For the Pacers to reclaim the east’s top spot they’re going to have to improve fast, beat Miami at home, and hope for the Heat to stumble in their remaining games.

Once a favorite to win the NBA championship, the Pacers are now not a guarantee to make it out of the second round of the playoffs.

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