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Pacers’ upcoming slate will show if they’re contender or pretender

NBA playoff chatter has mostly ignored the Pacers, who can make a statement Sunday afternoon in a rare high-profile TV spot on the road against the 76ers (ABC, 3:30 p.m.) It’s no secret “the big four” in Eastern Conference futures markets are Milwaukee, Toronto, Philadelphia and Boston. Pundits and bettors have been assuming for weeks that Indiana would fall off the pace to finish in the bottom half of the Eastern brackets before flaming out in the first round. The loss of leading scorer Victor Olapido in late January supposedly signaled the end of Pacers’ possibilities. Six weeks later, Indiana still matters. The Pacers are currently neck-and-neck with Philadelphia for the No. 3 seed in the East. Boston is within arm’s rea ...