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Wizards vs. Pacers preview: Salty Wizards look to crush Pacers' playoff hopes

Last year, the Pacers bounced the Wizards from the playoffs. Tonight, the Wizards have a chance to (almost) return the favor in Indiana.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

You know how they say revenge is a dish best served cold? What if we told you it's a dish best served salty?

Last year, the Indiana Pacers knocked the Washington Wizards out of the playoffs in the conference semifinals. And while falling to the East's top seed may not have left a bitter taste in the Wizards' mouth, blowing some chances to make the series more competitive left a slightly different taste in their mouth this year, according to Bradley Beal.

"We have a salty taste in our mouth - We were this close to being in the Eastern Conference finals."

Tonight, the Wizards have a chance to get some of that bad taste out of their mouth in Indiana, where they went 2-1 against the Pacers in last year's playoffs. This time around, the stakes are a bit different, as the Pacers try to claw their way back into the playoff race now that they finally have Paul George healthy. But the chance to crush Indiana's title hopes would be just as sweet for the Wizards now as it would be to do it in the playoffs.

UPDATE: From the sound of things, Beal is excited about the chance to hurt the Pacers' chances:

Where and when: The Washington Wizards are playing the Indiana Pacers at 8:00 pm at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. You can watch the game on TNT or join the #radioparty on 99.1 WNEW.

Who's out? For the Wizards, Garrett Temple is out for the rest of the regular season with his hamstring injury. The Pacers will be without Chris Copeland. C.J. Watson is questionable.

What's at stake: Thanks to the Bulls' win over the Nets, the Wizards are now officially locked into the fifth seed. They can't move up. They can't move down. They are in a holding pattern, waiting to see who winds up with the fourth seed between the Bulls and Raptors.

The Pacers, on the other hand, have everything to play for tonight. Thanks to the Bulls beating the Nets, they have a half game lead on Brooklyn for the eighth and final seed in the East right now. With a win tonight, the Pacers would be in the driver's seat to get a playoff spot. But if they lose, they're tied with the Nets again. Brooklyn holds the tiebreaker on Indiana thanks to Nets' head-to-head record against the Pacers, so the Pacers would have to hope the Nets fall to Orlando Wednesday and hope they beat the Grizzlies to make it in.

Key to tonight's game: Don't get hurt. Don't get us wrong, serving up some revenge to the Pacers would be fun, but entering the playoffs healthy would be even more fun.