THE Indiana Pacers secured a playoff spot on the final day of the regular season, downing the Atlanta Hawks, 104-86, on Wednesday in Indianapolis (Thursday, Manila time).
Paul George showed the way as the Pacers ended the regular season on a five-game winning run for a 42-40 record and No. 7 on the Eastern Conference standings.
Indiana avoided falling into a tie with the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls, who also won their final regular season assignments and wound up with 41-41 records.
A loss would have eliminated the Pacers, because the Bulls and Heat own the tiebreaks.
The Pacers will take on titleholder and Eastern Conference No. 2 seeds Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round.
George scored 32 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, Myles Turner had 18 points and eight rebounds, while Jeff Teague scored 19 and made seven assists.
The Hawks, who have earlier secured the No. 5 spot in the East, sat Dwight Howard, Dennis Schroder and Tim Hardaway Jr. and wound up with a 43-39 record.
Ersan Ilyasova scored 14 and Jose Calderon had 12 points for the Hawks.
Atlanta takes on No. 4 Washington Wizards in the first round.