It has been a rollercoaster of a season for the Indiana Pacers. They’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but the most devastating event was the injury to their star guard, Victor Oladipo. Despite his absence, the Pacers were still able to prevail as they’re entering the postseason with the fifth seed.
Guys have stepped up throughout the season to put the Pacers in this position. As tragic as the injury was, the Pacers benefited from it happening early because their players became accustomed to playing without their best player. They’re in a great position because they’re probably facing the least amount of pressure out of any team entering the playoffs. All they have to do is play hard and play their best and see where it takes them.
The Pacers are facing an inconsistent Boston Celtics team who at times look like one of the best teams in the NBA but who also has moments where they look like the worst. The Celtics have been trying to figure themselves out all season fighting through on the court issues, media spats, and a handful of players-only meetings. On paper, they have a ton of talent but on the floor, they’ve been the biggest let down this year.
Regardless of their inconsistencies, Boston has been the winner of three out of their four matchups with the Pacers. It’s going to take discipline for Indiana to come out of this series on top. Boston is a team that can make you pay for mistakes. If you’re the Pacers, you have to cherish every possession, take care of the ball, and contest every shot on the defensive end.
The Pacers are great at taking quality shots and the numbers speak for themselves. They’re top-five in field goal percentage and top-ten in assists. If they can keep up this efficiency in this series then they’ll have a great shot. It’s going to take aggression out of Bojan Bogdanovic and Domantas Sabonis. Without Oladipo, it will take a full team effort so other guys have to step up. Bogdanovic and Sabonis are their top scorers but everyone will have to contribute.
Game 1 @ Boston (Sunday, Apr. 14 – 1:00 PM EST, TNT)
Game 2 @ Boston (Wednesday, Apr. 17 – 7:00 PM EST, TNT)
Game 3 @ Indiana (Friday, Apr. 19 – 8:30 PM EST, ABC)
Game 4 @ Indiana (Sunday, Apr. 21 – 1:00 PM EST, ABC)
Game 5 @ Boston (Wednesday, Apr. 24 – If Necessary)
Game 6 @ Indiana (Friday, Apr. 26 – If Necessary)
Game 7 @ Boston (Sunday, Apr. 28 – If Necessary)
How Can They Succeed?
Success for the Pacers is going to depend on their defense. While they are one of the most efficient offensive teams, they’re amongst the NBA’s bottom when it comes to points per game. However, if they can get stops, get out in transition and let their defense lead to offense then victories will be easier to come by.
Myles Turner is their defensive staple who holds down the paint. He’s a Defensive Player of the Year candidate averaging 2.7 blocks per game which leads the NBA. He will have to anchor this defense throughout the playoffs if they’re going to be successful.
Who is their X-Factor?
The X-Factor for the Pacers is Sabonis. He’s having a superb season and should be under strong consideration for the Most Improved Player of the Year. Sabonis is the Pacers’ leading scorer behind Bogdanovic and also leads the team in rebounding. He’s just a scrappy player that plays hard and does all of the little things.
Sabonis knows how to work in the paint. He’s crafty and possesses great footwork. Whether it’s rolling to the rim for a finish or crashing the boards hard, Sabonis makes his presence felt inside. He averages 2.5 offensive rebounds per game which is huge for the Pacers. For their team to move forward, Sabonis has to have a big impact if they’re going to have any chance of coming out successful.
One positive stat in their favor
Defense wins championships and defense will have to reign strong for the Pacers throughout this postseason run. Their positive stat is their defensive rating which is ranked third in the NBA (105.9). The Pacers are pests on defense and a lot of that has to do with how well they play the passing lanes. They are third in steals per game with an average of 8.7.
As stated earlier, Turner is a shot blocking machine and that’s a huge factor in the Pacers only allowing 44.8 points in the paint which is ranked fourth in the NBA. If the Pacers want to win, the defensive discipline and intensity have to be there on a consistent level.