Eastern Notes: Pacers, Wizards, Stevens, Hawks, Magic

The Pacers won their play-in game on Tuesday night, while the Wizards lost theirs, meaning the two teams will face one another on Thursday in the Eastern Conference’s final play-in contest with the No. 8 seed up for grabs. The winner will earn the East’s last playoff spot, while the loser goes home.

The Pacers and Wizards had identical 34-38 records in the regular season, but since only one can make the playoffs now, no random tiebreaker will be required to determine which of them has the higher first-round draft pick or the higher spot in the lottery standings. The team that makes the playoffs will end up with the 15th overall pick (or No. 16, if the Spurs make the postseason). The team eliminated on Thursday will get a spot in the late-lottery.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Even before the Celtics won their play-in game on Tuesday, the idea that Brad Stevens‘ job might be in any jeopardy was “just not accurate,” despite the team’s up-and-down season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (video link).
  • While the Hawks entered the season with playoff expectations, team CEO Steve Koonin admitted in a Q&A with Chris Kirschner of The Athletic that he didn’t expect the team to finish in a tie for the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference. “I would say that I think we’ve exceeded all of the expectations we had internally,” Koonin said. “… I think if it wasn’t for the Knicks, this would be the biggest story in the NBA.”
  • The Magic‘s 21-51 record in 2020/21 was the team’s worst mark since 2014/15, but president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman is very optimistic about the direction of the rebuild, as Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press writes. “It’s exciting,” Weltman said. “I’ve never felt more excited about the team since I’ve been here than I do right now.”
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