Indiana (39-28) overtook Cleveland for the Central Division lead Sunday, grabbing a one-half game advantage by virtue of their 99-97 victory at Boston coupled with the Cavaliers losing to the Los Angeles Lakers later that night.
In Boston, the Pacers hung on for the win in a frantic final seconds in which they allowed Jayson Tatum to draw the Celtics within two points with 1.9 seconds to play and then gave the ball back on a turnover after Marcus Morris sold minimal contact that led to a foul by Victor Oladipo. But Cory Joseph contested Terry Rozier's jumper well enough that Indiana escaped and now own the third seed in the Eastern Conference.
Oladipo finished with 27 points while Myles Turner added 19 and ten rebounds for the Pacers, who got ten assists from Darren Collison off the bench in his second game back after missing 11 due to a knee injury. Indiana have won three straight on the road and five of their last six overall.
Philadelphia (36-29) are just two games behind Indiana for that third spot and in sixth place in the East as they drive toward their first playoff berth in six years. The 76ers have alternated wins and losses in their last five games after pounding Brooklyn on the road 120-97 on Sunday as eight players scored in double figures and Ersan Ilyasova had 11 points and 13 rebounds off the bench.
The 76ers rediscovered their shooting stroke as they made 52.6 percent of their shots, topping 50 percent for the fourth time in five games. They have averaged 113.4 points in that span, connecting on 42.6 percent of their 3-point shots and 51.1 percent overall.