By Ben Golliver

The Pacers have become the first NBA team to clinch a spot in the 2014 playoffs, accomplishing the feat 42 days before the end of the 2013-14 regular season.

Even though they fell to 46-15 after suffering a 109-87 road loss to Charlotte on Wednesday, Indiana maintained its 22-game lead over Detroit, who lost 105-94 at home to Chicago. The Pistons are currently the East’s No. 9 seed with a 24-37 record, and they have just 21 games remaining on their schedule.

The No. 1 seeded Pacers currently hold a 1.5-game lead over the two-time defending champion Heat, who are the East’s No. 2 seed. Indiana is seeking revenge after they lost to Miami in seven games in the 2013 Eastern Conference finals.

Indiana also holds a 12-game lead over Chicago as they chase their second straight Central Division title.

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