This isn't a slump. A slump is a blip on the continuum, a momentary lapse, something that can be fixed with a tweak here or a correction there. A slump lasts two, three weeks, at least for an elite NBA team – or one that fancies itself as elite.

No, what the Pacers have going right now is a full-fledged collapse, a gag job down the stretch that doesn't look fixable between now and the start of the NBA playoffs. Forget about worrying about the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, something we all thought was a fait accompli as the Pacers were rushing out to a 33-7 start.

Worry about winning a couple of games down the stretch and playing decent basketball – and scoring more than 80 points - as the playoffs beckon.

For the first time all year, the Pacers are in second place, behind the Heat, in the race for the No. 1 seed. That was their vociferously stated goal from Day One. Now they've thrown it away, and they've done it at a time when the Heat has had its own struggles.

"Good for them (the Heat),'' Roy Hibbert said dourly. "We don't deserve it. Good for them. Whoever we see in the playoffs, we'll see, but we've got to figure things out…But we don't deserve the No. 1 seed.''